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FOR THE PEOPLE 
i FOR EDVCATION 
FOR SCIENCE 






LIBRARY 

OF 

THE AMERICAN MUSEUM 

OF 

NATURAL HISTORY 





THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 



Printed at the Edinburgh Unirersity Pres-: 
By T. and A. Constable, 

FOK 

DAVID DOUGLAS. 

LONDON . . . ^^IMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT 
AND CO., LTD. 

CAaiBRLDGE . . SIALMILLAN AND BOWES. 

GLASGOW . . lAMES MACLEHOSE AND SONS. 




PlrotogravcraMeisenbachHifforth ftCoJ^eruir.. 






HELIGOLAXD, 

AS AN 5^,^'x(jb.«?i;ai 

ORXITHOLOGICAL OBSERVATORY 



THE RESULT OF FIFTY YEARS' EXPERIENCE 

BY \ 3^ , & ^ 

HEIXRICH GATKE 

0»B£E2£royX>l>~G MfMKVB OF TSE ZOOLOGICAX SOCIXTT OF VOSIfOS, B050CA£T unrvtrr: uF THE 

BSjnt!.B ojumnoi/xisTi' i~sios, a>~i> of the juceeicas ovsnaoLoGisTa' xrsiaf, busoeajiy 

^tTTrarg OF TH£ SOSFOLE ASTD XUS-WTCB SLATrB-AXlSTS* SOCICTT. OF THE 

VSSrTBOUJGIST&' T5I05 OF V UD-iA, AKD THS HX^SGJLEUU; OKKlXBOUXitCAI. 

CESTtALE, AyU MEMRO-. OF THE FEEJtASXST tiEjrlTaoLOGlCAl. OOJUOTTJX 

TRANSLATED BY 

KUDOLPH EOSENSTOCK, M.A. Oxox. 



5,2, 



'*r^-=i 




Grig ig bn Sant, ^a$ ^ob tit '^arhta rra J^rljelAsfr. 



EDIXBUEGH: DAVID DOUGLAS, 10 CASTLE STREET 

1895 



{All rights nserrcd} 



PREFACE TO ENGLISH EDITION 

As I am, in a measure, godfather to this Edition of" Mr. 
Giitke's Observations on the avifauna of Heligoland, it 
becomes a real pleasure to me to draw the attention 
of English-reading ornithologists to the true value and 
worth of the author's work. He has studied the subject 
of Migration of Birds and Bird-Life at all seasons at his 
great observatory, with little cessation or interruption, day 
after day, and night after night, for the last fifty yeai's ; 
and I consider that the unstinted gratitude of all fellow- 
workers in the same field is due to him for addiug such a 
luminous and important contribution to our knowledge of 
the ways of Birds. 

The plan of Mr. Gatke's work is excellent, and at once 
stamps it as representative of good work done both in the 
field and in the study. He tells us, and we can reaHse the 
fact, that Heligoland stands pre-eminent as an ornitho- 
logical observatory in the west of Europe. It is the key, 
as it were, to the situation, so far as ascertained by these 
fifty years of observation and experience ; and as such is 
expounded in the present volume. How difi'erent was the 
earlier age of superstition — not even yet entirely dispelled 
— followed by the age of theory wliich succeeded, and 
which latter still rears rather a hydra-head of trouble 
amongst the ever-improving means — ' the growing Sciences 



vi THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of" Obsei'vatiou.' Let us follow the surei' method, and, in 
the words of Lord Salisbury in his address to the British 
Association at Oxford, rather ' make a sm'vej, not of our 
science, but of our ignorance.' 

It is not my business to criticise — in this place — the 
deductions or arguments of our author, but only to point 
out very decidedly the important nature of a great and 
good piece of work, which cannot fail to take its stand as 
an invaluable guide-post to the better understanding, in 
many directions, of the great problems yet unsolved, con- 
nected with the Life-history of Birds ; while amongst our 
wiser naturalists it is hoped it may also prove a warning 
Pharos asrainst the sunken rocks and shoals of undigested 
theory and speculation. 

It is with all the greater pleasure that I introduce this 
Euo-lish translation to such of our British ornitholocfists as 
have been unable to master the German text, because, owing 
to a somewhat misleading article which appeared in the Ibis ^ 
after the publication of the original edition, I fear that the 
importance of Mr. Giitke's work has not been fully realised. 
The original list from which the said abstract was com- 
piled is merely the sum of the materials upon which Mr. 
Giitke's facts were based ; and the important earlier 
chapters of the book were ignored entkely by the com- 
piler. These however possess far higher interest, and 
commend themselves to the appreciative study of ornitho- 
logists of every country to a much further extent than 
either the original Hst or its inefficient abstract. 

Thus it has been that the subject, so ably illus- 
trated by our author, has been practically a closed book to 

' List of the Birds of Heligoland, as lecorded by Herr Giitke {Ibis, 189'2), p. 1. 



PREFACE vii 

by far the greater number of Britisli ornithologists and 
English-speaking people ; and one result has been a flood 
of theory, and incomplete and undigested material, instead 
of a practical accumulation of facts. 

When the publisher wrote to Mr. Giitke in No^'embel• 
1893, not only was his hearty consent to the publication of 
this translation given, but he also courteously supplied 
whatever additions and corrections he deemed necessary to 
make the book complete at the time of going to press, 
and since that date he has revised the proof-sheets very 
thoroughly, though his state of health unfortunately pre- 
vented him from giving the first portion of the book the 
careful reading he was able to bestow upon the i-emainder 
of the volume. His additional corrections on these sheets, 
received too late for msertion at their proper places, will 
be found on page 589. 

On the recommendation of Mr. W. Eagle Clarke, the 
services of Mr. Rudolph Rosenstock, M.A. Oxon., were 
secured, and he has carried out the literal translation in 
a very satisfactory manner. 

The nomenclature in the List of Birds adopted by Mr. 
Giitke has been followed ; but wherever it difiers from 
the nomenclature recognised by British ornithologists, the 
scientific name by which the bird is known in this country has 
been added in a footnote. As in the introductory chaptei's 
Mr. Giitke has used indiscriminately both the popular and 
scientific names for many species, it has been thought 
desirable, for the sake of uniformity, to give the Engiisli 
names only for all the strictly British species ; and both 
the Enghsh and the scientific names for all other British- 
Palearctic birds. In enabling the publisher to prepare the 
work for the printer, thanks in this respect are due to 



viii THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Mr. W. Eagle Clarke for his kindness in revisinjsj the 
synonymy and reading over the proof-sheets, and also to 
Mr. John Cordeaux and Professor Newton for the use of 
Mr. Giitke's pen-and-ink sketches which have been intro- 
duced into the text. The other vignettes and portraits 
of the author at the beginning and end of the volume are 
taken from photographs sent from Heligoland. 

JOHN A. HARVIE-BROWN. 



DuxiPACE, Larbert, 
May 8, 1895. 




AUTHORS norSE AND GARDEN 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO GERMAN 
EDITION 

Born in a small town of the Mark of Brandenburg, and enjoy- 
ing only so much of school education as, more than sixty 
years ago, the choir-master, sub-rector, and rector of our native 
youth were able to instil into me, with the aid of a tough hazel 
rod, nothing in the world would have seemed farther removed 
than the thought of my ever ' writing a book,' had not Nature 
herself put the pen into my hand. My resolve to pass a niunber 
of years immediately by the sea, as a marine painter, led me to 
a spot which, from an ornithological point of view, is literally 
without a rival in the world. 

Here my artist's attachment for open natiu'e could not fail 
to bring me in contact with the wonderful variety of bird-life 
in which this island abounds ; and my desire to possess some 
of these creatures, so charming in aU their acts and movements, 
led to the formation of a small collection. 

With the possession of these examples, however, there came 
a longing for a sound and fundamental knowledge of the material 
I had accumulated. Hence resulted many years of study of the 
bird-life of this island, and the comparison of its avifauna with that 
of other localities. From these studies and researches I was 
led to recognise that this little island presented an undreamt- 
of wealth of material valuable to Science, and indeed in this 
respect was superior to the proudest empire of the earth. At 
the same time, however, it became more and more plain to me 
that one to whom exceptional facilities had been granted for 
gaining a complete insight and knowledge in an important 
field of Natural History, ought not to let his experiences pass away 



X BIliDS OF HELIGOLAND 

with himself, but was in duty bound to make them known to 
inquirers in the same domain of Science. It is the sense of this 
duty which alone has prompted me to publish these experiences. 

In the following pages I shall endeavour, to the best of 
uiy ability, to discharge this duty. The manner in which I 
shall perform this task is of secondary importance, nor after 
what I have said at the outset of this preface am I likely to 
be subjected to a severe criticism in this respect. The facts 
alone are of importance, and these consist solely and exclusively 
of such material as it has been my good fortune to meet with 
here, without any kind of merit on my own part. 

H. GATKE. 

Heligoland, May 1890. 

Mr. Giitke writes on the 14th of May 1895 :— ' The number of the 
Heligoland birds has recently been increased by one, viz. the Great 
Bustard {Otis tarda), a female shot here April 18th, thus making 
the total number of birds observed in Heligoland stand at 398.' 

[ This note mas received too late for insertion at its iirojier jilace. ] 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

I. MIGRATION OF BIRDS:— 

1. Course of Migration generally in Heligoland, 3 

II. Direction of the Migration Flight, . . 24 

III. Altitude of the Migration Flight, . . 46 

IV. Velocity of the Migration Flight, . 63 

V. Meteorological Conditions which influence 

Migration, .74 

VI. Order of Migration according to Age and Sex, 100 

VII. Exceptional Migration Phenomena, . 114 

VIII. What Guides Birds during tiieik Migrations? . 131 

IX. The Cause of the Migratory Movement, 143 

II. CHANGES IN THE COLOUR OF THE PLUMAGE OF 

BIRDS WITHOUT MOULTING, . .149 

III. ACCOUNT OF THE BIRDS OBSERVED IN HELIGO^ 

LAND, ....... 165 



THE MIGRATION OF BIRDS 




•• * ¥ 



^'*'^^^^-_^-^^ 








I. COURSE OF MIGRATION GENERALLY 
IN HELIGOLAND 

That strange and mysterious phenomenon in the hfe of birds, their 
migratory journeys, repeated at tixed intervals and with unerring 
exactness, has for thousands of years called forth the astonishment 
and admiration of mankind. 

From times of hoary antiquity the shores of the Mediterranean 
have presented to the eye of the spectator and inquirer the picture 
of countless hosts of feathered strangers pouring into these sunny 
lands from the dark and dismal regions of the North, and after a 
few months' stay in a milder clime, returning once more to their 
mysterious homes. To the observer of early times this phenomenon 
seemed so wonderful, so full of mystery, that these bird-flights 
came to be believed as portending the fate of men and empires. 
How differently does our modern age view these movements ! To 
us, the sight of our songsters, the familiar companions of the flower- 
laden summer months, hastening away before the raw winter days, 
cannot be otherwise than pleasing, for we know that it is their only 
means of escaping from the many hardships which winter brings 
in his train, and to which large numbers of them would unfailingly 
succumb. In the spirit we follow our feathered friends over the 
towering heights of the snow-clad Alps, sharing in their joy when 
some high mountain valley offers to a portion of the widely 
spreading host some temporary rest and refreshment. Next, our 
eye, like theirs, espies in the dim distance the deep blue, wide- 
stretching expanse of the Mediterranean ; this too is soon passed 
over, and the scene shifts once more to the boundless sandy desert, 
trembhng beneath the tierce rays of the African sun. Here we 
must take leave of our little favourites ; though a few of them which 
have chosen the broad Nile route we may perhaps accompany some 
little distance further ; but to these also must we bid adieu as we 
come in sight of the mighty Pyramids, to the borders of those 



4 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

counlries whose symbol, the Sphinx, still raises her weather-worn 
head from the lap of buried ages. 

The months of winter depart ; budding Nature heralds the 
approach of spring ; already is she assuming her dress of green ; 
and after one mild night the hedges and bushes of our gardens, our 
groves and fields, are once more crowded with our feathered friends. 
The homely Swallow busily flutters around her nest of the preced- 
ing year. We can tell by his gestures that the Wliitethroat in 
yonder bushy hedge is an old acquaintance of ours, and when, a few 
nisjhts later, the soulful song of the Nightinofalo is carried to us from 
the dense, dark underwood by yonder pond, we seem with glad sur- 
prise to recognise her as the same bird to whose notes we have already 
listened with rapture during many a fragrant niglit of spring. All 
have happily escaped the many dangers of their long journey. 

Amid such charming scenes the migration of birds proceeds in 
neai'ly all latitudes of the globe. Far different, however, is the 
picture presented on this solitary island of the North Sea. In 
place of olive-groves and palm-grown oases, waste sandhills and 
desolate rock-chasms are all that now, as in the remotest ages, here 
meet the wanderer's gaze. None of them finds the goal of his 
journey on this bare and rugged isle — all pass it in untiring haste. 
Spring here is not ushered in by the jubilant return of the feathered 
songsters to the longed-for nesting homes, nor does autumn strew 
her golden leaves on the path of their departure; silently the 
flocks pass the inhospitable rock, where no wood or thicket or 
waving corn-field offers a homely nook for rearing the young brood. 
Only those grotesque members of the bird-world, the Auks and 
Guillemots, find an inapproachable dwelling on its steep and surf- 
beaten cliff, where on narrow crags and ledges, amid the fury of the 
storm, they hatch their eggs unsheltered by a nest, while their 
harsh, unmelodious voices mingle in manifold discords with the 
roar of the never-resting waves. 

But though this storm-swept rock has thus been deprived of all 
those pleasing scenes which surround the migration of birds, 
especially in spring, in other lands. Nature, ever a loving mother, 
has here too endeavoured to make compensation : for though grace 
and ornament may be wanting, their loss is amply balanced by the 
extraordinary and unexampled grandeur in which the phenomena 
of migration are displayed on this island. 

The main peculiarity of Heligoland, i.e. the almost Arctic char- 
acter of its coasts, is made strikingly manifest by the manner in 
which the earliest precursors of re-awakening bird-life Tnake their 
appearance on the island. These first arrivals are the Guillemots 
already mentioned as making their homes on the rocky ledges of 



COURSE OF MIGRATION IX HELIGOLAND 5 

the cliff. They visit their breeding-places in flocks of thousands 
at the New Year, often even as early as December, as though they 
wanted to make sure of their former haunts being well preserved 
and ready for their recejotion. These visits are however limited to 
the hours of high water at the particular time, and mostly take 
place early in the morning. The whole face of the cliflf is then as 
completely covered with the birds as in the height of the breeding 
season. Amid the exchange of endless obeisances and incessant 
altercations, they carry on an animated conversation, in which every 
one of them seems to be talkincj but not one to be listeninsf. With 
the approach of low tide all have disappeared. Visits of this 
nature are repeated at irregular intervals until the true com- 
mencement of the breeding season — about the beginning of April. 

Xext to the Guillemots, the Skylarks and Starlings make 
their appearance, according to the state of the weather, from the 
middle of January, at first in small and afterwards in larger flocks. 
They present however mostly a very sorry aj^pearance, and appear 
to have but little foreboding of the joys of spring ; nor is this to 
be wondered at, seeing how extremely raw, duU, and short the 
so-called mild daj's of the first months of the year are apt to be. 

Bird-life presents Httle change during the first weeks of 
February. Should, however, the weather be tolerablj' mild, 
Larks, Starlings, and Fieldfares make then* appearance in already 
large numbers, more especially the two first named ; and also 
Dunlins, Plovers, and Golden Plovers. During the last week how- 
ever the migration begins to assume another character ; unless 
frost or snow prevail the first of the Pied Wagtails make their 
appearance, sometimes also a Grey Wagtail, and possibly even a 
Stonechat. This latter species, as a rule, however, does not make 
its appearance before the beginning of March. Moreover, as 
regards the Fieldfares, which occur durmg the whole of the month, 
one is never certain whether thej- are merely roving companies or 
regidar migrants, inasmuch as great flights of these birds are met 
with even as late as May. The Missel Thrush, however, passes 
through the island regularly at the end of February, though 
always in scattered companies. — This exhausts the hsts of the 
few regular February migrants. 

Bird-life becomes more animated in March, even at its com- 
mencement; the Stonechat, just mentioned, which is here christened 
the Messenger of Spring, as well as the Pied Wagtail, are almost 
daily guests. The Liimet, Twite, and Greenfinch are met with 
pretty frequently, the Goldfinch more rarely ; besides these, large 
flocks of Starlings, Skylarks — which, however, for the most part, 
are merely birds of passage — and small companies of the famihar 



6 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Woodlark begin to arrive, and the vanguard of the Shorelark 
appears on the scene. Large swarms of Snow Buntings make 
their appearance, and depart again after a brief and restless stay ; 
while Yellowhammers and Common Buntings, in scattered com- 
panies, have been noticed to make a longer sojourn. The Rooks 
now begin their migrations, soon to be joined by small companies 
of Hooded Crows, which are, somewhat later, followed by flights of 
Jackdaws. The first named of these birds are fond of delaying 
their journey for a time on the fields of the upper plateau, which 
are sown with oats or barley ; the Rooks, on the other hand, 
invariably pass across the island without interrupting their journey. 
The Hooded Crow, conscious of the possession of a vocal muscular 
apparatus, seems to regard herself as commissioned to announce 
to the natives of Heligoland the approach of spring, making at the 
latter season of the year a most extensive use of the gift with 
which Nature has endowed her; while in autumn, on the other 
hand, she invariably passes on her way in silence. 

Snipe and Blackbirds are met with more or less frequently, 
according to the prevailing weather, from the beginning of the 
month. Fieldfares are still observed in great flocks ; Redbreasts 
being also pretty frequent. That most confiding little bird, the 
Hedge Sparrow, quietly and busily disports itself in our gardens ; 
the cheerful ' Bink, bink ' of the male Chalfinch resounds on all 
sides; while isolated examples of the elegantly coloured black 
males of the Black Redstart, as well as the first males of the 
Common Wheatear, are now for the first time to be met with. 

Later in the month the Fire-crested Wren appears in limited 
numbers ; the Chift'chafF may be seen in every shrub, and the 
White Wagtail is found in company with the Pied Wagtail. The 
Rock Pipits, which, about the beginning of the month, appear in 
increasing numbers along the sea-shore, display in greater frequency 
the transitional stages towards their summer plumage, and at the 
same time the grassy plains of the island become more and more alive 
with the Meadow Pipit. The Reed Bunting makes his appearance, 
and the Shorelark, previously so rare, now passes in great flocks. 

By degrees the Song Thrush is found associated in increasing 
numbers with the Blackbird, and the A\'oodcock is at the height 
of its migration — ' Latare.' ^ The Ringdove is seen in greater and 

' [In Prussia the passage of the Woodcock occurs in spring, and tlie third Sunday 
In Lent is called Woodcock Sunday ; hence the rhyme of the foresters — 

Oknii — da kommtn aic .... tr. (they arrive). 

Latare — isl das Wahre . . . . ,, (are truly there). 

Judika — auch noch da . . . . ,, (are still present). 

Pahnarum — rarum . . . . . ,, (ai'e rare). 
Ocnli is the third Sunday in Lent, from the Introit, taken from Psalm xxv. 14; 



COUESE OF MIGRATION IN HELIGOLAND 7 

smaller companies from the beginning of the month, joined by 
solitary examples of the smaller black-eyed relative, the Stockdove. 
The Water Rail is of common daily occurrence. 

Great flocks of thousands of Hooded Crows, Rooks, and Jack- 
daws may have been seen passing over the island during the 
whole month, while the migration of Snipe and Blackbirds con- 
tinues to its latter end. During the last days of the month both 
the white and red-spotted forms of the Bluethroat have been seen 
in very rare and solitary instances. 

Among the birds of prey, sohtary examples of the Peregrine 
may be seen almost daily — old males of the Merlin also frequently 
occur, but male Kestrels are less numerous. 

April unfolds a complete change in the phenomena of the bird- 
life of this island. This is the time of the pretty Ring Ousel, the 
Yellow Wagtail, the Hoopoe, and the Wryneck. All the gardens 
are alive with the Willow Wren, the Sedsfo Warbler, the Lesser 
Whitethroat, the Blackcap, and large numbers of Redbreasts. Of 
the Finches, the species Chaffinch, Brambling, and Siskin com- 
mence their migrations. Hooded Crows and Jackdaws, as well as 
Song Thrushes, are still abundant, but of Blackbirds onl}' females 
and birds of the previous year remain, while the migration of the 
old males of the Common Wheatear is now at its height. Towards 
the end of the month, if the weather is favourable, old males of the 
Pied Flycatcher, the Redstart, and the Whitethroat are met with ; 
the Lesser Wliitethroat now gives place to the Willow Warbler ; it 
the days are warm the first of the Ortolan Buntings and the Tree 
Pipit make their appearance. The Redshank and the Wood Sand- 
piper are heard at night, and seen scattered during the day ; these 
are soon followed by the Green Sandpiper. Of Merlin and Kestrel 
only solitary males are still met with, soon to be replaced entirely 
by increasing numbers of female birds. 

May is par excellence the mouth during which the number of 
birds, in course of their spring migration, reaches its maximum, 
presupposing of course that the weather is favourable to their 
occurrence. Among birds of prey there arrive the Hobby, 
Honey Buzzard, and Sea Eagle ; the Red-backed Shrike is 
frequently very numerous ; but the Golden Oriole is extremely 
scarce. The black-backed males of the Pied Flycatcher arrive in 
great numbers during the first weeks of the month ; about the 
middle of it, fairly large numbers of the Spotted Flycatcher and 
solitary examples of the Nightingale appear. The males of the 

Latare (i.e. Laetare) is the following Sunday, the Introit for which is Isaiali Ixvi. 10. 
Judica is Passion Sunday, Introit Psalm xliii. 7 ; Palmarum, Palm Sunday. — Rev. 
C. SwAiNSON, Provincial Names and Folldore of British BinU, p. ISO. — Tr.] 



8 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Red-spotted Bluethroat are seen in great numbers, sometimes in 
large masses; males of the Redstart are innumerable; while the 
Garden Warbler is less numerously represented. The Whitetliroat 
is extremely abundant, and solitary examples of the Barred Warbler 
are met with on specially warm days. Of the Warblers, the Willow 
Warbler occurs in great numbers, but of the pretty Wood Warbler 
only isolated examples are occasionally met with. The Reed 
Warblers (Acrocejohalince) are represented during the whole of the 
month by the Sedge Warbler in great numbers, while on the other 
hand the Marsh and Reed Warblers and Grasshopjjer Warbler are 
met Avith only in isolated instances. The Common Wheatear is 
still very abundant, but by this time the greater number of the 
birds present consist of females ; while the whole island often 
teems with Whinchats. Among the thrushes, the Ring Ousel is 
now the most abundant ; the numbers* of Song Thrushes are 
considerably on the decline, while of Blackbirds only scattered 
sti'agglers may still be seen. 

Great flocks of the Blue-headed Wagtail, among which scattered 
examples of the Black-headed Wagtail occur, are seen to frequent 
the pastures. Of the Pipits, the Tree Pipit occurs very abun- 
dantly ; of the Tawny Pipit, on the other hand, only isolated 
examples are met with, while of the occurrence of Richard's Pipit 
only exceptional cases are known. With the exception of the 
occasional appearance of an example of the small, pretty, short- 
toed species from Greece or Asia Minor (Alauda brachydactyla), 
Larks are no longer seen. The Buntings are numerously represented 
by the Ortolan Buntings, and now and again by an example of 
the Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocepliala). Of the 
Finches, solitary examples of the Goldfinch only are still met with. 

The Swallow, somewhat later the House Martin, and lastly the 
Sand Martin, now migrate in large numbers ; and large flocks of 
the Swift pass in uninterrui^ted succession. The Cuckoo may be 
seen daily, and sometimes even heard. The Goatsucker is met 
with very frequently on all warm and calm days ; the same may 
be said of the Wryneck ; and the Turtle Dove, whose appearance 
seems to be less dependent on the weather than that of the birds 
just mentioned, may be seen singly or in groups of three or four 
individuals, up to the end of the month. 

Among the May arrivals must be classed by preference the three 
species of Totanus, — the Common Sandpii^er, the Greenshank, and 
Spotted Redshank. Of these, crowds of the first frequent the 
rocky shore of the western coast of the island ; the Greenshank 
only occurs scattered in the same locality, while the Spotted 
Redshank is seen or heard only on very rare occasions. The Land 



COURSE OF MIGRATION IN HELIGOLAND 9 

Rail is now very mimei'oiis, the Spotted Crake is met with pretty 
frequently, while the sprightly Moor Hen is caught now and again 
in the throstle bush. The appearance of the Common Coot is, 
on the other hand, quite exceptional. 

On excejJtionally fine warm days the cheerful kktt-khtt-kutt 
of the Dotterel, now on the wing in smaller or larger companies, 
may be heard, and in the course of the month these birds are 
shot abundantly while sitting about on the fields ; at the beginning 
of the month the less handsomely coloured males only are met 
with, but from its middle onwards the females, noticeable by the 
handsome markings of the head, form the predominating majority. 
Very fine examples of the Golden and Grey Plovers, in full 
breeding plumage, are met with almost daily, though on account 
of their extreme shyness they are not often killed; examples of 
the Bar-tailed Godwit are seen only in exceptional instances, and 
the Black-tailed Godwit is equally rare. On the shore of the 
Dune, or Sandy Island, the Turnstone, the Dunlin, the Knot, and 
the Sanderling abound, though the two last species are but i-arely 
seen in the pure summer plumage. The Turnstone occurs more 
frequently in this stage of plumage, and the remaining species in 
great abundance. While the small Black-breasted Dunlin predomi- 
nates on the shore of Sandy Island, Schinz's Sandpiper frequents 
almost exclusively a small rain-water pond on the upper plateau, 
where also the small and pretty Little Stint is occasionally shot ; 
in the summer plumage this bird is, however, extremely rare on 
the Dune. 

Besides the above-named birds, the Whimbrel and the Oyster- 
catcher are seen very frequently, the latter even occasionally making 
attempts to breed on Sandy Island, though it never succeeds in 
rearing the young. 

Of the Terns, the Gull-billed Tern is met with irregularly in 
the course of the month ; the Sandwich Tern, the Arctic Tern, and 
the Common Tern, occur in great quantities, but of the Lesser 
Tern and Black Tern only solitary examples are seen. 

AU is now astir in the breeding-places of the Guillemots ; while 
numbers of the breeding birds are sitting on their eggs, thousands 
not thus occupied fly in uninterrupted confusion down and along 
the sides of the clift", unfolding a wonderful picture of Northern 
bird-life. The Razorbill breeds at a spot somewhat more remote, 
while the presence now and then of examples of the Common 
Pufiin adds an additional charm to the scene. A few pairs of these 
last-named birds bred in the island about fifty years ago ; this is 
unfortunately no longer the case, as the breeding birds were taken 
away from the nests. 



10 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

If towards the end of May the weather be specially favourable, 
most of the above-named species pour in in incalculable numbers ; 
during the hours of night, this great host of wanderers sweeps 
across and past the island without taking rest thereon — some of 
the birds travelling singly, others in smaller or larger groups, 
according to the nature of the species — all striving to gain their 
far-oft' homes. About sunrise, however, and during the earlj^ hours 
of the forenoon, thousands and tens of thousands of these birds 
break their journey : some, too, at sunset, in order to make a few 
hours' stay on our island. It is, however, absolutely impossible to 
ascertain the manner and method of arrival of most of these visitors, 
even by the most careful observation ; this is specially the case with 
the small song-birds and similar species, whose number increases 
with each minute, without one being able to see a single bird de- 
scending from on high, or shaping its course in any one particular 
direction. Many alight on the fields while it is still dark, and are 
present in their thousands by the time it has become daylight ; 
some, on the other hand, e.g. the Bluethroats, arrive shortly before 
sunrise ; others, like the Whin- and Stonechats, arrive only after day 
has fully begun ; from this time onwards their number increases 
steadily, and in so striking a manner that, by ten o'clock in the 
morning, all the pastures, fields, and gardens, and even the rubble 
at the foot of the clift', literally teem with Blue-headed, Black-headed, 
and Yellow Wagtails, Redstarts, Chats, Wheatear, ^Vhin- and Stone- 
chats, Bluethroats, Warblers, and Reed Warblers. The common 
Wheatear is specially numerous on the shingle at the foot of the 
clift', and thousands of birds, notably Warblers, lurk among the 
shrubs and sand lyme grass (Elymus arcnarius) on the Dune. 

Favourable conditions such as these not only provide the 
fowler and collector with an abundance of material in the shape of 
the more commonly occurring species, but he may, at such times, 
generally reckon to come across some rare and valuable stranger 
from the south-east. As instances I need only cite the Desert 
Wheatear (Saxicola deserti), Black-eared Chat {Saxicola aurita), 
and Eastern Pied Chat {Saxicola moreo), Pallas' Short-toed Lark 
(Ala^lda piftiwleUa) Ehrenberg's Redstart {Sylvia mesoleuca), and 
Paddy-field Warbler {Sylvia agricola), Emberiza luteola, Red- 
rumped Swallow {Hirwndo rufula), Caspian Plover {Charadrius 
asiaticus), and the Eastern Golden Plover (Charadrius falvus), 
and many other more or less interesting treasures of my collection. 
Unfortunately, however, occurrences of this kind are conditioned 
by the co-operation of so many dift'erent meteorological factors, 
that completely successful results in this direction are extremely 
rare, and indeed have not been obtained for many years. 



COUESE OF MIGRATION IN HELIGOLAND 11 

June, as one might expect, is, so far as numbers are concerned, 
not so productive a month as its predecessor ; nevertheless it may 
add to the collection an equal, if not greater, number of the rarer 
occurrences. Its first days, if fine, warm, and calm, convey to this 
island the Melodious Warbler, the Barred Warbler, ilarsh Warbler, 
and Reed Warbler ; isolated examples of the Lesser Grey Shrike 
and Woodchat Shrike are seen ; now and again, too, the Short-toed 
Lark, which is, however, also met with during the latter half of 
Ma}' ; also Cretzschmar's Bunting (Emberiza ccesia), and the Black- 
headed Bunting (Emheriza rnekmocephala), an example or two of 
the Rose-coloured Starling:, and strangers of like sort from the far 
south-east. 

Up to the middle of the month, besides the above named, the 
Spotted Flycatcher — once, on the 3rd June 1860, I obtained a fine 
old male of the White- collared Flycatcher (Muscicapa albicollis), — 
Willow Warbler, Swallow, Martin, Sand Martin, Goatsucker, and 
the Turtle Dove, still continue their migration, though in diminished 
numbers. The migration then gradually dwindles, and shortly 
after is completely arrested, for the old scattered examples of 
Plovers, Godwits, and Sandpipers, and the like, which are met 
with up to the end of this, and in the course of the next month, are 
not regular migrants, but stragglers, who either singly or in flocks 
rove about throughout the summer without going to their breeding- 
places. Simultaneously Avith these may be seen now and agam 
one or more old birds of other species, such as Starlings, Thrushes, 
and the like ; these, however, consist of individuals who have either 
lost their mates or whose nests or broods have been destroyed ; 
as, however, it is too late to make another attempt at breeding, 
and as the time of their migration has not yet arrived, they like- 
wise are compelled to fly about idly and without purpose. 

The arrival of the young Starlings is the first indication of the 
reflux of the migration wave. These appear in smaller or greater 
companies as early as the last ten days of June, and increase in 
numbers daily up to many thousands, into July. Thus in 1878, 
during many days of June and July, hundreds of thousands of 
young birds of this species travelled across and past Heligoland. 

July. — A considerable increase in the number of birds engaged 
on their return passage is noticeable in the course of this month. 
At its commencement, in addition to young Starlings, young 
Lapwings may often be seen during the morning hours in gi-eat 
numbers in potato-fields; they are followed by the first young 
birds of the Ringed Plover, and somewhat later by the Golden 
Plover, the Ruff, and the Dunlin, also the Whimbrel and the Red- 
shank, to which the Greenshank is soon after added, all the birds 



1-2 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

being young iudividuals. Old Cuckoos begin to return from about 
the middle of tlie month. The Guillemots which breed on the 
island, on calm evenings conduct their young ones out to sea ; the 
young Sparrows, which have been bred here, disappear towards the 
close of the month ; the first young of the Common Wheatear now 
make their appearance, and perhaps also a solitary young Cuckoo. 

Hundreds of different notes of shore-birds, passing in large 
masses towards their winter quarters, are heard during the night. 
These invariably, at this time, pursue an east-to-west line of flight. 

With the advent of August the phenomena of migration are 
awain unfolded in all their srandeiu'. The earlier arrivals at the 
beginning of tlie month consist more esjoecially of the various 
members of the great Snipe and Plover family — CJiaradrius, 
Nv/menius, Limosa, Totaniis, and Tringa. These pass over the 
islands in endless flocks throughout whole nights, and in slightly 
smaller numbers during the day. Side by side with these, the 
first young birds of the Willow Warbler, the Pied Flycatcher and 
S]3otted Flycatcher, the Whinchat and the Wheatear, accompanied 
by iudividuals of the Wood Warbler and Melodious Warbler, make 
their appearance. Young Cuckoos may now be counted among 
daily occurrences. The numbers of all these birds steadily increase, 
the Tree Pijiit and Ortolan Bunting being joined to them about 
the middle of the month, while the first examples of the Redstart, 
the A\niitethroat, the Garden AVarbler, and the Red-Spotted Blue- 
throat follow during its latter half. 

If the end of the month is attended by warm, calm, and clear 
weather, with light south-easterly and southerly winds, we shall find 
all the tields and gardens alive with innumerable young Flycatchers, 
Warblers, the Willow Warbler, Redstarts, Whitethroats, Whinchats ; 
and countless young Wheatears merrily disport themselves at the 
edge of the cliff, and on the shingle at its foot. The sheep pastures 
teem with young Wagtails (Blue-headed, Black-headed, and Yellow). 
Young Red-backed Shrikes may be seen sitting on the look-out for 
prey on the dry outermost ends of the twigs of the throstle bushes 
and garden shrubs. Young Goatsuckers, as yet without the white 
decoration on tail and wings, are roused out of every hidden nook, 
and young Cuckoos rove over the fields in quest of caterpillars 
among the cabbages. Simultaneously with the latter, the Wryneck 
makes his appearance in large numbers, and may be seen cowering 
in the grass busily occupied in impaling ants. Swifts rove about, 
and pass over the island in large and noisy flocks ; the hoarse ' etsh ' 
of the Common Snipe is heard abundantly, more especially in the 
morning. In the last case, as well as in that of all the other species 
already enumerated, the birds are exclusively young individuals. 



COURSE OF MIGRATION IN HELIGOLAND 13 

Crowds of Crossbills, grey, j-ellow, and red, are seen in the 
course of the month ; singularly, their occurrence is almost, if not 
entirely, restricted to very stormy weather with heavy rain. 

Among birds of prey solitary young examples of the Hobby 
arrive about the middle of the month ; a week later young Sparrow- 
hawks, Peregrines, Common Kestrels, and Merlins, as well as young 
Ospreys and Honey Buzzards make their appearance. 

September. — Durin"' the first half of the month, if the weather 
be tine, the number of the above-named species reaches its maxi- 
mum, and the potato-fields teem with Song-birds, Flycatchers, 
Common Wheatears and Whinchats. The Ortolan Bunting 
and the Tree Pipit are very frequent; in the case of the former 
species old males are now found intermingled with the young 
birds. Isolated examples of the Tawny Pipit are met with, Avhile 
Richard's Pipit is seen more or less numerously in the course of 
the whole month, the birds being in their still nearly pure light- 
bordered early plumage. All the Swallow species pass through 
in large flocks. The Blue-headed, Black-headed, and Yellow 
Wagtails are numerous, and voung White Wagtails make their 
appearance. The majority, however, of all these migrants is still 
composed of young birds. 

Towards the middle of the month the Meadow Pipit begins to 
arrive in numbers ; Redstarts become more abundant, but the Fly- 
catchers are on the decrease. Among the Willow Wrens the old 
less rich-coloured birds make their appearance, as well as soUtary 
examples of Chiffchaft's, Golden-crested Wrens, Redbreasts, and 
Ring Ousels. 

Towards the end of the month the number of young Wheat- 
ears and Golden Plovers decreases ; large numbers of Song 
Thrushes and Chaffinches connnence their migration, and isolated 
old examples of the Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, and 
Kestrel make their appearance. 

October brings to the shores of Heligoland not only the largest 
variety of species of the whole autumn migi'ation, but also by far the 
largest number of individuals of any jjeriod of the year. Through- 
out the whole of the month. Hooded Crows travel in never-endina: 
swarms of hundreds and thousands across the island, and for a 
breadth of many miles, j^ast both its coasts ; cloud-like masses of 
Starlings pass at the same time. At the beginning of the month, 
if the weather is favourable, the island literally teems with Song 
Thrushes, especially during the morning hours. The number of 
Skylarks passing during dark nights across and past the island 
in one endless stream defies even an approximate computation. 
Fields and gardens simply teem mth Meadow Pipits and Chaf- 



14 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

finches, so that at each atej), in whatever direction, one rouses 
clouds of them. Golden-crested Wrens, too, frequently simply 
flood the island in countless numbers. Chiffchaffs, Redbreasts, 
Wliitethroats, Hedge Sj^arrows, Rock Pipits, Shorelarks, Bram- 
blings. Twites, and Titmice make their appearance in greater or 
smaller flights, according to the state of the weather. This is more 
especially the month for the migration of the old birds of the 
Common Snipe, the small Jack Snipe, and especially the Wood- 
cock ; the same applies also to the Blackbird and Redwing ; while 
the Song Thrush and Ring Ousel early begin to decrease in 
number, Fieldfares on the other hand appearing jjeriodically in 
large quantities. The old birds of the Common Wheatear also 
migrate, more especially at this time, but only in inconsiderable 
numbers. 

Those rarer occurrences fi-om the far East, in which Heligo- 
land is so rich. Thrushes, Warblers, and Buntings, are also met 
with in greater number in the course of this month; the same 
applies to the Greater Shrike (Lanius vuijor), the Redbreasted 
Flycatcher, and Richard's Pipit, though the migration of the 
latter species is stated to commence as early as September, 
and to continue through the whole of that month. An indis- 
pensable factor for the appearance of all such strangei's in any 
considerable numbers is the continuance of a light and warm 
south-cast wind. Any considerable increase in the strength of 
this wind in the course of the month, or any veering round of it 
to a more easterly quarter, is attended by the exceptional appear- 
ance of the Common Jay, sometimes, as in 1882, in inconceivable 
quantities. 

Of the Peregrines, Merlins, and Common Kestrels, only old 
birds in faded plumage are now met with, with which, however, a 
3'oung Gerfalcon (F. gyrfalco) may now and again be associated. 
Old birds of the last named species have never yet been seen, or 
at any rate killed, on the island, though three or four cases of the 
more northern Greenland Falcon are recorded. Rough-legged 
Buzzards make their appearance, while the owls begin to leave, — 
the Short-eared Owl as early as the beginning of the month, but 
the Long-eared Owl not till near its end. Examples of Tengmalm's 
Owl have likewise now and again been shot towards the end of 
October, and in some cases even much later. 

We must not omit to mention those nocturnal migration flights 
which, revealed by the light of the lighthouse, proceed on so 
stupendous a scale as to form one of the most characteristic and 
attractive phases of the whole phenomena of Migration as dis- 
played on this island. They reach their grandest development 



COURSE OF MIGRATION IN HELICxOLAND 15 

during the latter half of the month, especially towards its close. 
Predominating in numbers among these night travellers are the 
Skylarks; next come the Starlings and Thrushes, always accom- 
l^anied by the many different forms of the great Snipe Family. 
Strange to say, the Golden-crested Wren occasionallj', though 
rarely, makes its appearance in such migratory flights, as in the 
night from the 28th-29th October 1882, during which those tiny 
creatures swarmed round the lighthouse like so many snowflakes, 
while every square foot of the island literally teemed with them. 
The migi-ation in this case lasted fi'om about ten o'clock in the 
evening until nine the next morning. A similar exceptionally large 
migration of Larks took place in October 1883. 

Though by reason of the changeability of the weather, migra- 
tions of this kuad hai'dly ever extend beyond the duration of a 
single night, the one last mentioned continued through four entire 
nights, commencing, according to my ornithological diary, on the 
evening of the 26th at eleven o'clock with myriads of Larks and 
only comparatively few Starlings, and lasting with varying intensity 
until the morning of the 31st. 

The landscape, which forms the background of so rich an un- 
folding of animal life, possesses in and for itself an extraordinary 
fascination. An equable calm dark night, without moon or stars, 
and attended by a very light south-east wind, are the conditions 
necessary for the grandest possible development of a migration of 
this nature ; the presence in the atmosphere at the same time of a 
considerable quantity of moisture powerfully augments the intensity 
of the phenomena. 

The darkness, equally dense on all sides, amid which the light- 
house appears to float like some great luminous body ; the broad 
beams, which radiate from it in all directions, and in the dim air 
seem to stretch into infinite space ; the consciousness of the near 
presence of the great sea around, and the complete absence of every 
sound in surrounding Nature, — aU these combine to form a picture 
of the utmost solemnity and grandeur. 

This wide silence is first broken by the solitary low ' Zeep ' {czip) 
of the Song Thrush, and perhaps here and there the clear call-note 
of the Lark. Then again silence reigns for a minute or two, only 
to be once more suddenly broken by the far-sounding 'Ghlik' 
(r/hee-eek) of the Blackbird, soon followed by the manifold ' Tir-r-r ' 
(tir-r-r) of a swiftly-passing flock of Sandpipers. The calls of the 
Skylark rapidly increase in number, smaller and larger flocks of 
the birds being heard approaching and disappearing near and far. 
The hoarse ' Etsch ' (Et.sit) of the Snipe is accompanied by the 
clear ' Tilth ' (tilt) of the Golden Plover, the clear, loud ' Klli-iih ' 



16 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

{Klil-illi) of the Grey Plover, the wild far-sounding cry of the 
Curlew, the manifold ' Schack-shack-shack ' {Shack-shack-shack) of 
the Fieldfare, the long-drawn ' Zieh ' (tsee) of the Redwing. Next, 
by the sound of hundreds of rapidly-ejaculated cries, ' Tiltt-tiitt — 
tiitt-tiltt — tiitt-tiitt ' {tutt-tiltt — tiUt-tutt — tiltt-tiltt), we recognise a 
long-extending swarm of Knots hastily jjursuing its join-nej^ ac- 
companied by an incessant din of countless piping, rattling, and 
quacking voices unknown to gunner or fowler, and often re- 
minding one of the melodious strain of a creaking cart-wheel. 
Many of these, more particularly strident and harsher notes, 
however, evidently proceed from the Heron and its many different 
relatives. 

The whole sky is now filled with a babel of hundreds of thou- 
sands of voices, and as we approach the lighthouse there presents 
itself to the eye a scene which more than confirms the experience 
of the ear. Under the intense glare of the light, swarms of 
Larks, Starlings, and Thrushes career around in ever-varying 
density, like showers of brilliant sparks or huge snowfiakes driven 
onwards by a gale, and continuously replaced as they disappear 
by freshly arriving multitudes. Mingled with these birds are 
lai'ge numbers of Golden Plovers, Lapwings, Curlews and Sand- 
pipers (Tringae). Now and again, too, a Woodcock is seen; or an 
Owl, with slow beatings of the wings, emerges from the darkness 
into the circle of light, but again speedily vanishes, accompanied 
b}' the plaintive cry of an unhappy Thrush that has become its 
prey. 

Such a migration stream lasts through a whole long autunm 
night, and, under specially favourable conditions, may, as already 
stated, be repeated for several nights in succession. Nor is it by 
any means confined within the narrow limits of what is known as 
a migration route {Zugsirasse), for that which took place in the 
night of the 27th of October 1883, in a direction from east to west, 
in which the birds might have been counted by millions, was noticed 
by a young observer from Heligoland at Hanover, 112 geographical 
miles further south ; the time of passage and the quantities of 
birds taking part in the migration being the same as were re- 
corded for Heligoland. Further, the east-to-west migration of the 
Golden-crested Wren in October 1882 extended in one continuous 
column, not only across the east coast of England and Scotland, 
but even up to the Freroe Islands. When one thinks of numbers 
of individuals such as these, which cannot be grasped b}- human in- 
tellisrence, it seems absurd to talk of a conceivable diminution in the 
number of bii'ds being effected through the agency of man. In one 
particular respect man no doubt does exert a noticeable influence 



COURSE OF MIGRATION IN HELIGOLAND 17 

on the numbers of bird-life, not however by means of net and gun, 
but rather by the increasing cuUivation of the soil, which roots out 
every bush and shrub, great or small, as a useless obstacle, and thus 
robs the bird of even the last natural protection of its nest. Having 
thus driven the poor creatures into distant and less densely populated 
districts, we complain that we no longer hear then- merry song, 
unconscious of the fact that we are ourselves responsible for the 
cause. 

November has a distinct and peculiar character of its own. 
Its short, raw, and cold days now drive even the more northern 
species of land- and sea-birds from their homes. Among the former, 
large flocks of that very boisterous bird, the Snow Bunting, assume 
a particularly prominent place ; next to these. Mealy Redpoles 
arrive in smaller or greater companies, which are sometimes swelled 
to countless numbers. The Linnet and Greentinch appear in large 
numbers, but of the Hawfinch only solitary examples are seen. 
Scattered examples of the Common and Yellow Buntings are also 
met with. Shorelarks migrate daily in large numbers, reaching 
to hundreds of thousands. Large numbers of Rock Pipits frequent 
the shmgle and the rocks by the seashore overgrown with sea-tang, 
and side by side with them the dull-coloured Purple Sandpiper 
makes its appearance. 

Of October visitors solitary examples of the Great Shrike 
(Lanius iruijor), with simple white speculum, are still met with. 
Hooded Crows, Starlings, Fieldfares, and Redwings continue to 
migrate as late as the middle of the month. Of Blackbirds, only old 
examples are still met with. Skylarks still migrate in masses by 
day and during the night; but the pretty Woodlark leaves in only 
small companies. The Golden Plover, the Common Curlew, Oyster- 
catcher, and iJunlin still migrate in thousands during dai-k nights, 
while during the day larger or smaller flights of different species of 
Wild Geese and freshwater Ducks hasten past with uninterrupted 
speed. Among exceptional occurrences, at this time, one may ex- 
pect the beautiful, large, eastern form of the Northern Bullfinch 
(Pyrrhula major), the Waxwing, and now and again an old 
Richard's Pipit, a Red-breasted Flycatcher, or a northern Black- 
bellied Dipper. 

Among the Birds of Prey which now make their appearance, the 
Sea Eagle may be seen circling about in the air, especially during 
an east wind ; most of these are young birds, — old birds with pure 
white tail being counted among the greatest rarities. Strange to 
say, for the first time, the few examples of the Hen Harrier and of 
Montagu's Harrier, which ever occur here at all, are usuallj- 
observed this month, the majority being brown birds. Old blue 

B 



18 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

examples of the Merlin are often seen, but of old Peregrines solitary 
examples only are met with. The Short-eared Owl gradually dis- 
appears. Of the Long-eared Owl also only solitary specimens remain, 
while the small pretty Tengmalm's Owl is now only met with as a 
rare occurrence. 

With the arrival of the northern strangers the sea begins to 
present a picture of strikingly active and varied bird-life. The 
numbers of the Kittiwake are beyond all computation. At all times, 
and in aU directions, both old and young bii'ds of the Common Gull, 
the Herring Gull, and the Greater Black-backed Gull may be seen 
roving or soaring over the sea. On stormy days that lovely bird, 
the Little Gull, collects in great multitudes under the lee-side of 
the island, but at once vanishes if the weather improves. The two 
handsome species of Skua — the Pomatorhine Skua and Richardson's 
Skua — appear annually in the course of December, the greater 
number of them consisting of young autumn birds. Isolated 
examples of the smaller species — Butibn's Skua — are also met with 
at this season. Among the peculiar family of the Petrels, isolated 
examples only of the Fulmar Petrel are for the most part met with, 
though the bird is frequently seen in large numbers at other times. 
The Fork-tailed Petrel is onlj^ of rare occurrence. That smallest of 
all the swimming-birds — the pretty Storm Petrel — is seen annually, 
and shot with increasing frequency ; the same is the case with 
the Grey Phalarope. The Great Northern Divers and the Black- 
throated Divers are only among the very rare occurrences. The 
Red-throated Diver, on the contrary, is met with daily at greater 
or less distances from the island, and is very frequently shot. In 
a few isolated instances this bird has been observed migrating in 
hundreds of thousands. Before concluding, mention must be 
made of the small and trim Little Auk, solitary examples of 
which are shot pretty nearly everj' year durmg the latter half of 
November. It is only in exceptional instances that this bird has 
been met with more numerously ; all the examples being, in such 
cases, in a very emaciated condition. 

Decembek.- — During no month of the year is the influence of 
the prevailing weather on the migration of birds more strikingly 
felt than in the course of December. Should the temperature 
remain mild, Starlings, Blackbirds, Fieldfai'cs, and Redwings, as 
well as Snipe and Woodcock, continue to migrate up to the close 
of the year ; thus, in the year 1873, Thrushes and Snipe were 
daily met with on Heligoland, though in small numbers; 
while, according to a report in the Field, exceptionally large 
quantities of Snipe were exposed for sale in the London markets 
throughout the whole of December of the same year — a fact which 



COURSE OF MIGRATION IN HELIGOLAND 19 

evident!}' proves that all these birds were still engaged on their 
normal autumn migration from east to west. 

Matters, however, assume a vastly different aspect if, instead 
of a mild temperature, frost and a sharp east wind set in in the 
beginning of the month. Under these conditions all of the birds 
belonging to the before-named species — as well as the Curlews, 
Golden Plovers, Oj'stcr-catchers, and Sandpipers, which have imtil 
then tarried in their summer habitations — rush in one night 
towards their winter quarters ; during the day countless flocks of 
Swans, Geese, Ducks, and ^lergansers are seen migrating across 
the sea. Sea Eagles, numerous Common Buzzards, and solitary 
Harriers are frequently observed; and now and again a Stone 
Curlew may be seen under similar conditions. The old birds of 
the I'urjDle Sandpiper, Sanderling, and Knot appear in more or less 
considerable numbers. On the sea the Slavonian Grebe may be 
seen rather frequently ; likewise old birds of the Black Guillemot, 
Black-throated Diver, and pretty often, too, Great Northern Diver. 
The Common Gull is abundant ; young birds of the Glaucous Gull 
are fairlj^ common, and the Iceland Gull is shot occasionally. The 
Long-tailed Duck dives merrily among the rocks to the north of 
the Dune, while solitary females of the Common Scoter may be 
seen swimming round the cliff. 

If this sudden frost is accompanied by a heavy fall of snow, 
hundreds of thousands of Skylarks, Twites, Linnets, and Green- 
finches, Goldfinches, and Mealy Redpoles arrive during the early 
morning and forenoon of the following day, and literally cover all 
such places on the island as are still free from snow. If the snowy 
weather lasts for any considerable time, and is accompanied by a 
strong east wind and severe cold, all the species of the northern 
diving Ducks very soon congregate in fairly large numbers on the 
sea. In addition to the females and young of the Common Scoter, 
scattered young examples of the Red-breasted Merganser are 
amongst the first to arrive. These are soon followed by young 
Golden-eyes, smaller or larger companies of which dive about in 
search of food quite near to the foot of the cliffs. 

Scaups next make their appearance at a somewhat greater 
distance from the island ; these keep together in large flocks and 
consist in great part of males in perfect plumage, in exceptional 
cases, and are, later, accompanied by one or several examples of the 
Pochard. The Goosander now begins his excursions, either singly 
or in companies of from three, seven, up to ten individuals, most of 
the birds being fine old males; the females, with rust-coloured 
heads, are more frequently met with swimming. During this 
stage of the bird-life of winter, a good sportsman, provided with 



20 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

reliable weapons and good powder, may in the course of a 
morning manage to bag as many as twenty-five or even thirty 
birds. For this, however, it is necessary that one's boatman should 
have some acquaintance with sport, and Icnow the way to approach 
the game. 

However, for the development of this scene of northern bird- 
life in its utmost grandeur, a very severe frost and an easterl}' 
wind, lasting for some weeks, are necessary conditions. Huge 
masses of ice will then form during the ebb on the shallows along 
the coast of Holstein, from the mouth of the Elbe — here miles in 
breadth — westwards as far as the Weser. Covered by falling snow, 
and flooded by the waves which wash over them, these masses very 
soon attain a thickness of from three to six feet ; the next flood- 
tides set the icefield afloat, and the east wind drives it out to 
sea. This process is repeated with each succeeding ebb and flood, 
so that the whole bay, from the coast of Jutland down to the Jahde 
Basin becomes covered by a sheet of closely compressed and super- 
imposed masses of ice and snow. With every ebb current this 
icefield is driven nearer and nearer towards Heligoland, and finally 
touches the island. Indeed, the process has occasionally assumed 
such vast dimensions that the whole sea, even far out to the west, 
has become covered with ice, so that, as happened in the years 
1845 and 1855, not the smallest surface of open water could be seen 
even from the eminence of the lighthouse. 

The northern species of diving Ducks at the beginning of the 
winter congregate along the strip of coast mentioned above,^ where 
they find shelter from the east wind and quiet feeding -places. 
These arc now driven by the ice into deeper water. At first, indeed, 
the belt of ice is only a mile wide, and after being raised by the 
flood-tide is pushed out to sea by the east wind, so that an open 
surface of water is agfain formed between it and the shore, to which 
the ducks will then also fly back. In the course of a few days, 
hoAvever, the mass of ice increases to such an extent that the birds 
are shut out from this means of escape and, being henceforth 
compelled to travel out to sea in advance of the icefields, are very 
soon brought up close to the shores of Heligoland. 

In the meantime the Baltic too has become covered with ice, 
and the numberless swarms of Ducks and Mergansers which had 
intended to pass the winter there now fl^'in a westerl}' direction across 
Holstein and join the already enormous swarms from the North. 

The sea m the neighbourhood of Heligoland is comparatively 
shallow, a fact which considerably facilitates, for the birds frequent- 
ing it, the task of diving for their food ; while of the food itself, 
' i.e. the coast of Holstein, etc. — (Tr.). 



COUKSE OF MIGEATIOX IN HELIGOLAND 21 

especially of small Crustacea, there is in this district, abounding as 
it does in reefs and submerged rocks, an even extraordinary 
abundance. It is therefore not surprising that the number of 
individuals of the species congregating here should be such as to 
defy even an approximate estimate. 

The species before mentioned are now joined by many old 
examples of the Golden-eye and the Red-breasted Merganser, 
enormous numbers of old males of the Common Scoter, and, lastly, 
of the Velvet Scoter ; old males of the Eider Duck are less 
numerous. Finally, we must mention the Smew, though the 
number of individuals of this species met with near Heligoland is 
invariably small. 

The view which now presents itself to the spectator for a dis- 
tance of manj' miles beyond the island is one of wondi-ous beauty 
and of quite peculiar grandeur. Towards north, east, and south, 
farther than the eye can reach, there stretches the white, vast, and 
unbroken icefield. In lee of its — for the most part — sharply defined 
margin, a perfect calm prevails, and the smooth surface of the sea 
is covered with myriads of Ducks in glossy black plumage. Closer 
in shore, especially to the north of the island, smaller species make 
their winter home, whilst farther off, the handsome old males of 
the Red-breasted Merganser are swimming about in bands of from 
eighty to one hundred and twenty-five individuals. 

At the same time, countless multitudes of all sorts of species are 
seen speeding towards all parts, and in all directions, in companies 
great and small, solitary and in pairs. Indeed, I have known days 
on which I have seen, far as the eye could reach, in all quarters of 
the sky, swarms of these birds crossing each other in all directions ; 
and more astonishing still, on looking upward, have beheld above 
me a teeming multitude, so thick that the highest swarms pre- 
sented the appearance of scarcely discernible clouds of dust. In 
fact, the whole vault of heaven was literally filled to a height of 
several thousand feet with these visitors from the regions of the 
far North. Here, flocks of the Common Scotei', in their gi-een 
glossy plumage, hasten, with rapid strokes of the wings, and there, 
crossing their path, approaches a company of twenty Velvet Scoters, 
in their deep black plumage set oft' by wings with spots of dazzlmg 
white. Even in the far distance, by their beautiful dark green heads 
and the peculiar round white spots between beak and eye, we are 
able to recognise the beautiful Golden-eyes as they fly hither and 
thither, alone or in companies. Scarcely has our eye been turned 
towards a long chain of prettily-marked Scaups, when a group of 
splendid creamy-red Goosanders at once distracts our attention. 
Ajnong all these are mingled, like swarms of insects, teemmg 



•22 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

crowds of lighter or darker brownish-grey females and young birds 
of all possible species. Nowhere does the quick observant eye 
find rest. Suddenly are heard — first faintly, then in increasing 
loudness— sounds like distant trumpet-blasts, and once more our 
eyes are attracted upwards, where a long chain of Whooper Swans, 
eighteen or twenty in number, in snow-white plumage, calmly 
pursue their way with measured beatings of their wings. 

These, indeed, are red-letter days for the ardent sportsman and 
ornithologist. Unfortunately, they are onty too rare ; for this 
wonderfid phase of bird-life requires not only a very severe and 
persistent frost with snow, but also an uninterrupted spell of 
easterly winds, lasting at least four weeks. The same causes which 
then impart the aspect of an arctic winter to the surrounding sea 
also invest our little island with a similarly polar character. The 
united forces of winds and currents drive huge ice floes, from four 
to seven feet thick, upon the shore and on the reefs ; these gigantic 
blocks tower in romantic shapes to a height of from twenty to 
thirty feet against the face of the clift". Snow in part covers this 
chaotic barricade of ice, while the rugged and torn clitl's jutting 
out above it form, in the dull and wintry atmosj^here, a back- 
ground of deepest tone, and invest the whole scene with a 
beauty and grandeur such as cannot be painted by the richest 
imagination. 

At the north side of the island, the upper portions of the cliff 
pi'oject somewhat beyond its base, which latter, being more or less 
subject to the erosive action of the waves, is excavated into numerous 
grottos and recesses. From the inclined strata forming the upper 
overhanging portion of the clitf, moisture trickles down throughout 
the whole of the year. On the setting in of severe frost, the drops 
of water collecting at the lower edge of this overhanging portion 
are frozen into icicles, which, soon attaining to a length of five or six 
feet, hang down at higher and lower elevations from the face of the 
cliff; and, continuing to be fed by the incessant flow of water from 
above, rapidly increase in length and thickness, until, reaching the 
base of the cliil', they form at irregular intervals columns or pillars 
of ice from twenty to sixty feet high, between which Ave may pass 
into the recesses and caverns behind. A more marvellous and 
fixnciful work of nature than these remarkable ice pillars it is 
difficult to imagine. 

At another part of the coast, again, the rocks, from about the 
middle of the height of the cliff, slope downwards irregularly — 
sonaewhat in the form of terraces. As the water which trickles 
down the side of the cliff freezes, these terraces become gradually 
covered by a thick sheet of ice. The whole scene then gives one 



COURSE OF MIGRATION IN HELIGOLAND 



23 



the impression of a waterfall with hundreds of branches, cast, as by 
some sudden spell, into icy stitthess. 

Many solitary excursions, made at late hours in the afternoon, 
amid scenes such as these, while the great snowflakes were slowly 
and silently falling from the darkening sky above, recalled to 
memory that early, active sportsman's life which forms the object 
of my most frequent and powerful yearnings. 




II. DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION 
FLIGHT 

Turning now from this general view of Migration to the various 
separate factors of the movement, the attention of an observer is 
attracted, first and foremost, by the direction in which the hordes 
of wanderers pursue their course. The whole process appears to 
be simple enough so long as the inquiry is not pushed beyond the 
horizon of the place of observation. When, however, one attempts 
to pursue the path of the wanderers to its goal, the problem often 
assumes an apparently insoluble aspect — more especially so in the 
case of the autumn migration, by which the birds are conducted 
from their breeding homes to their generally far distant winter 
quarters. The course of the spring migration, on the other hand, 
is a very simple one. 

A large portion of the migrants travel within an east-to-west, 
another within a north-to-south, line of flight. Species which fail to 
find satisfactory winter quarters in the western countries of Europe, 
on arriving in these districts, deviate from their westerly course 
and pursue their journey in a southward direction. Those, on the 
other hand, whose autunm migration takes place in a southerly 
direction, per.sovere in their course from their breeding stations to 
the end of then* journey, though some may make a more or less 
considerable deviation to the east. 

The predominant mode in which the migratory movement is 
performed is in a broad front, or migration-column, which, in the 
case of species migrating to the west, corresponds to the latitudinal 
range of their breeding area, and in those migrating southwards, to 
the longitudmal extent of their nesting stations. The view, much 
discussed in recent years, that migrants follow the direction of 
ocean coasts, the drainage area of rivers, or depressions of valleys 
as fixed routes of migration, can hardly be maintained. Too many 
facts are directly at variance with this assumption. One of the 
most salient only — that of the flight of Kichard's Pipit — may be 
cited here — a bird whose breeding home is further removed from 



DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 25 

Heligoland than that of any other of its ninneroiis visitors. A 
mere surface glance at the map shows, in the most striking manner, 
how manj' large rivers, in addition to the Ural chain, this bird 
has to cross, almost at right angles, in the course of its journey 
from Datiria to Heligoland every autumn. 

Direct observations in Heligoland, either from watching the 
flight of passing migrants by day, or noting their call-notes during 
the night hours, have established the following main results in 
regard to the direction of the migration flight, viz., that in autumn 
the migration proceeds from east to west, and in spring in the 
opposite direction. Further, that in the cases of all the species and 
individuals noted on the island, these courses are rigidly maintained 
during the passage, and such rare deviations as do occur never 
extend bej'ond one or two points of the compass. 

Not all birds, however, reach their winter destinations by an 
autumn j^^^ssage proceeding in this simple westward direction. 
Many, on the other hand, are sooner or later obliged to turn south- 
wards, in order to reach the lower latitudes in which their winter 
quarters are situated ; in the case of some species the original 
westerly direction of flight is maintained throughout the whole of 
the immense stretch of road from the eastern countries bordering 
the Amoor river to the west of Spain, and it is not until they reach 
the latter district that such birds turn to the south for the purpose 
of crossing the Mediterranean near Gibraltar ; others, whose breeding 
homes lie further north, turn to the south in England, either to 
pass across the Channel into France, or to reach Spain via the Bay 
of Biscay; while still others, originating from the far north of 
European or Asiatic Russia, turn southwards even still farther north 
m Upper Scandinavia. It might perhaps be supposed that it was 
the sight of the sea which induced birds thus to alter the direction of 
their migration flight, were it not that the hosts of wanderers change 
their course long even before reaching the sea ; the Hooded Crow, for 
instance, does not get to the western parts of England, but turns to 
the south as soon as it reaches the central portions of that country. 

Besides Buzzards, Starlings, Larks, Swifts, Plovers, Curlews, 
and Geese, the numberless bands of Hooded Crows which for 
the most part fly during migration at a very low elevation, most 
clearly demonstrate the western direction of the autumnal migration. 
The breeding area of this species extends eastwards as far as 
Kamtschatka. According to observations of Eugen von Homej'er, 
carried on for a large number of years, the flights of these migrants 
arriving in Poiiierania come from the east and travel onwards in 
a westerly direction. Such of the wanderers as pass the night in 
Holstein arrive in Heligoland about eight in the morning. From 



26 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

that time until about two in the afternoon, hosts consisting of 
hundreds and thousands follow each other in uninterrupted suc- 
cession. All of them first become visible on the eastern horizon. 
Such members of the broad migrant column as come into view 
behind the northern point of the sandhills travel in a straight line 
across Heligoland, thus following a line of flight exactly east to 
west, and they disappear over the sea towards the west, shaping 
their course for the east coast of England. In the latter countrj', 
too, the direction from which they are seen to arrive is so exactly 
east that they are popularly known as Danish Crows. Even here, 
however, the western extension of their flight is not yet at an end. 
Mr. John Cordeaux — a most zealous observer — whose sphere of 
observation is situated on the east coast of England, in the same 
latitude as Heligoland, informs me that the bands of migrating 
Hooded Crows do not alight immediately upon reaching the coast, 
but continue their journey inland in a westerly direction; and 
Stevenson {Birds of Norfolk, i. p. 261) states that, even after 
reaching the more inland parts of the country, hundreds of these 
birds, during the autumn migration, continue their flight in a 
westerly direction. A portion of these arrivals pass the winter in 
the eastern jiarts of England, only a few aj^pear to reach its western 
portions, for Rodd {Birds of Cornwall and Scilly Islands, p. 64) says 
that he can only record the Hooded Crow as an accidental visitant. 
Nor does the migration extend to Ireland. Hooded Crows, indeed, 
are found in the latter country, but these are regular residents, 
neither leaving the country nor receiving additions from without, 
since — according to Thompson's careful observations and reports 
{Natural History of Ireland, vol. i.. Birds, jx 310) — their number 
neither increases nor diminishes at any portion of the year. 

Now, the eastern and midland counties of England cannot by 
any possible means aflbrd sufficient room for furnishing winter 
quarters to the millions of Hooded Crows which every autumn 
pass from this island across the North Sea ; and since, according to 
Rodd and Thompson, they do not reach either the west of England 
or Ireland, while, according to Stevenson, their numbers in Norfolk 
are already reduced to hundreds, it follows that they must very 
soon after reaching England pass across the Channel to France, 
and accordingly terminate their long western flight by a final 
deviation in a southerly direction. 

The foregoing considerations have, of course, gone no further 
than to prove that these Hooded Crow migrants have maintained a 
westerly line of flight over a stretch of some two hundred miles ; this, 
however, ought to be sufticient to justify us in assuming that all the 
countless hosts of wanderers, whose numbers are beyond even any 



DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 27 

approximate computation, have regularly maintained this direc- 
tion from the first commencement of their migration. Indeed, a 
migration stream of such force as that which is constituted by these 
Hooded Crows throughout the whole of October and a great part 
of November, could only have been generated by a breeding area 
extending from the western boundary of Russia eastward to 
Kamtschatka. 

These birds again, which, by reason of their low migration flight, 
are brought more easily than other species within the sphere of 
observation, atibrd a most striking proof of the patience, or rather 
obstinacy, with which migrants continue in the direction of their 
migration flight. During the autumn migration it frequently 
happens that when out at sea they are carried into air currents 
stronger than is suitable to their line of flight, a violent south-east 
wind being especially unfavourable to their normal progress. To 
escape the disagreeable experience of having this wind blowing 
through their plumage obliquely from behind, they turn their body 
southwai-ds, and appear to be flying in this direction. This, however, 
is not the case. They do not make the least forward progress to 
the south, but their flight is continued in as exact a westerly course, 
and with the same speed, as though the birds were moving under 
favourable conditions straight forwards, i.e. in the direction of the 
long axis of their bodies. This is shown in the most convincing 
manner by such bands as happen to pass immediately over the 
head of the observer. 

Besides Hooded Crows, many other, indeed perhaps all species 
are capable of executing a laterally directed movement of flight of 
this nature, not only under such compulsory conditions as they 
may encounter during the flight of migration, but also during the 
ordinary activities of their daily life, and are able to accelerate this 
movement at pleasure, both for temporary purposes as well as for 
prolonged periods. Originally, I used to think that Hooded Crows, 
not being particularly good flyers with a violent side-wind, drifted 
just as much to leewards as they progxessed straight forwards, 
after the manner of a badly sailing ship, and that in this way their 
course came to assume a direction almost exactly west. Continued 
observations have, however, convinced me that this view cannot be 
maintained. Moreover, in innumerable instances, I have seen not 
only Crows, but also Buzzards, notably Honey Buzzards, maintain 
a similarly-directed migration cour.se. Gulls, again — especially 
Great Black-backed, Herring, and Common — may be seen daily and 
hourly flying at a greater or less speed, now to the right, now to the 
left, in directions at right angles to the long axis of their bodies. A 
further proof of a migration in a dii'ection from the far east to the 



28 THE BffiDS OF HELIGOLAND 

far west is furnished In" the Honej* Buzzard. The breeding zone 
of this species extends on this side of the Arctic Circle, from 
Scandinaria, through European and (according to Pallas) the whole 
of central Asiatic Russia. This bu-d in fact must breed in large 
numbers in the boundless forests of these two regions, for only 
nesting areas of this extent could produce the vast numbers of 
individuals which soinetimes, in the course of September, pass 
by this island on a westerly course. In Germany and France it is 
met with as a breeding species only locally and irregularly, while 
in Spain it is never met with as such at all. If, therefore, the 
autumn migration of this Buzzard proceeds in a southerly or 
south-westerly dnection, it should be seen in large numbers from 
somewhere near Lake Baikal to Greece and Italy; whereas, on 
the contrary, the bird at that time occurs only extremely rarely 
and exceptionally in Turkestan, on the Lower Wolga, and in Greece 
(Sewertzoff, Dresser, and von der Mtihle). At Malta (Wright) only 
small companies of five, or at most twelve, individuals are seen. 
In Sardinia it has not been observed at all; and Major A. von 
Homeyer has failed to meet with it even on the Balearic Islands. 
In the north-east of Africa the bird has only very rarely been met 
with, and in Algiers only in solitary instances. 

On the other hand, this Buzzard aj^pears at Gibraltar and the 
opposite coast of Africa in large numbers. According to Favier 
(Irby, Ornithology of Gibraltar), droves of over a hundred 
individuals have been seen during the spring migration at Tangier 
flying towards the north, and Irln- reports similarly from Gibraltar, 
stating that the migration extended over twentj" days. Both ob- 
servers at the same time remark that these birds are seen much 
less numerouslj' in autumn, the flights then rarely exceeding fifteen 
individuals. Lord Lilford, however, observed in the interior of Spain 
large flocks in September, migrating southwards. This difterence 
in the intensity of the spring and autumn migi'ation is however 
merely an apparent one, since at the latter season the Honey 
Buzzards travel also durmg the night hours, and hence numbers as 
large as those seen so frequently in the spring by day at Gibraltar, 
in autumn pass across the sea unobserved during the night. 

In Heligoland, for instance. Honey Buzzards are frequently 
killed in autumn, during the capture of birds at the lighthouse 
lantern at night. This has, however, never yet happened in spring. 

The fact that the Honej' Buzzard does not reach Portugal (Tait, 
Birch of Portugal, Ibis, 1887) also proves, what has been already 
called attention to in regard to Hooded (Di'ows, that it is not the 
sight of the sea which induces birds migrating in a westerlj- direc- 
tion to turn suddenly south, but that this deviation forms, from no 



DIEECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 29 

accountable cause, the concluding stage of the westerly course of 
the migration. A similar phenomenon is presented by the same 
bird in England. In that country the Honey Buzzard is met with 
as a breeding species only in solitary instances, but arrives in 
tolerably large numbers on the east coast during the autumn 
migration. Such examples as originate from the northern limits 
of their breeding zone in Europe and Asia bring their westerly 
flight to an early close in England, where, then turning south, they 
pass via Western Franco and Spain to their winter quarters in 
Africa. It is hardly probable that more than a few fly across the 
Bay of Biscay, for, according to Kodd {Birds of Cornwall), these 
birds are a very rare occurrence in the most western portions of 
England, including the Scilly Isles. 

Now and again, however, they do appear to take such a course, 
as, according to Thompson, a pair of these birds has been seen on 
three different occasions during the summer months in Ireland, one 
of the birds having been killed in each instance. 

We have already, at the beginning of this chapter, mentioned 
Richard's Pipit as affording a striking instance of a migration flight 
from a location far to the east. The bird in question in the course 
of its autumn migration actually passes over the immense tract of 
country which lies between the Sea of Ochotzk and the Atlantic 
coast of Spain. 

In treating of several species migrating in directions from 
north to south, and vice versa, the view has been expressed that 
their migratory flights were confined within a definite number of 
degrees of latitude — further north or further south, relatively to 
the more northern or more southern situations of their breeding 
homes. The case of Richard's Pipit, however, proves, beyond 
question, that such gradations in the range of the migratory 
flights, measurable by degrees of longitude, do not apply to 
species whose migratory flights proceed in directions from east to 
west — for the breeding area of the interesting species referred to is 
strictly and exclusively limited to Daiiria — Dybowsky having about 
twenty years ago succeeded in discovering its nests in that district ; 
while not one of the manj^ travellers of earlier or more recent times 
who have investigated the ornitholog}' of European and Asiatic 
Russia has ever met this bird breeding to the west of Lake Baikal. 
Truly astonishing as the migration journey of this small bird, 
from one end of the Old World to the other, may appear, there can . 
be no doubt of the fact that the individuals observed in Heligoland, 
Holland, England, France, and Spain, during the autumn migration, 
originate from far-off' Daiiria. Xor must such individuals be in 
any sense regarded as isolated rarities or ' stragglers,' for not only 



30 THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

are they met with regularly every autumn, but they frequently 
attam to the comparatively large numbers of from ten to fifty, and in 
two or three instances of even a hundred individuals in a single day. 

With Richard's Pipit might also be associated the small Yellow- 
browed Warbler {Sylvia superciliosa). This bird likewise has its 
breeding home in eastern Asia, but nevertheless, in addition to its 
normal southerly autumn migration, it migrates in fairly large 
numbers far towards the west. The bird appearing in Heligoland 
in favourable Aveather regularly every autumn, two, three, or more 
individuals being frequently observed in one day, it surely ought 
also to occur in Germany with equal regularity and in fairly 
large numbers; it thence undoubtedly continues its journey to 
France, and perhaps even farther. In England it has only been 
killed twice, but there can be no doubt of its having reached that 
country far more frequently via Heligoland without having been 
observed. When we reflect that it requires the coincidence of very 
many favourable conditions before so tiny a creature could be 
noticed, distinguished, and shot, amid the countless bushes and 
shrubs of gardens and river-banks, this scarcity of observations 
need not surpx'ise us ; more especially because, probably, but very 
few European ornithologists are acquainted with its call-note. 

When we turn from the birds considered above to such others 
the direction of whose migratory flight we can verify by the direct 
perception of our senses, we find, that during the day. Larks, Star- 
lings, many Waders, and especially the dense droves of the large 
dark-pluniaged Hooded Crows, furnish us with clear, though, as 
regards the numbers of individuals, still limited supjjorts for the con- 
clusions as to the direction of the migratory flight which we enun- 
ciated at the outset of this chapter. The matter assumes, however, 
a quite different aspect on those dark autumn nights in which strong 
migrations take place ; these nights offer far more extensive and 
interesting opportunities for conducting observations on the subject 
of our inquiry. On such nights the sky is often completely 
obscured by vast multitudes of Plovers, Curlews, Godwits, Oyster- 
catchers, Greenshanks, Sandpipers, and many other less vociferous 
species, such as Larks and Thrushes, whose voices, resonant from 
afar, proclaim clearly through the stillness of the night from 
what direction in the sky they are arriving, while the notes of 
the departing travellers, gradually growing fainter and fainter, 
announce, in a manner equally distinct, in what direction they are 
continuing their journey. The whole flight proceeds without pause 
or change in one incessant stream from east to west. 

The most varied observations of others, conducted directly 
in the open air, have yielded similar results. Among such, 



DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 31 

Naumann's weighty and unassailable autlioritj' stands pre-eminent. 
In his incomparable work he again and again proclaims in the 
most decisive manner, that ' birds on their departure travel from 
the direction of the rising to that of the setting sun, and in the 
opposite direction when they return in the spring,' or ' that their 
migration in autumn proceeds in a straight direction from east to 
west.' He shows by an ample number of instances under what 
conditions this may be noticed by day or perceived at night from 
the voices of the birds (Vogel DeiiUchlands, i. Introduction). 

The highly interesting observations conducted since 1879 at 
the lighthouses and lightships on the English and Scotch coasts in 
regard to the species, numbers, and direction of flight of migrants 
have yielded similar results. From these observations it appears 
that all autumn migrants, with the exception of some northern 
swimming birds, arrive on the east coast of England by a westering 
flight. The same was observed on the east coast of Scot- 
land, where, moreover, an opportunity was offered of observing 
how this course was continued in an unchanged direction across 
the mainland to the west coast. In many cases the flight in this 
direction did not even end there ; thus at Cape Wrath, the most 
north-westerly point of the mainland of Scotland, the Gannet was 
observed passing in a westward direction for from six to eight days, 
its numbers being estimated at from two to three thousand. This 
westering flight must, however, of necessity have terminated in the 
northern Hebrides (Migration Reports). 

Woodcock were likewise met with numerously on the east 
coast of Scotland. On eastern points of all the islands of the 
Orkney group they occurred more unequally and irregularly, but 
Saxby reports that they are also frequently met with on the 
Shetland Islands in the course of the autumn. This species is still 
found breeding beyond central Sweden, i.e. to the east, but only in 
isolated instances; hence all the birds above referred to could 
only have reached Scotland and its northern islands \>y a westerly 
course of flight; from thence, as a glance at the maps of the 
country at once will show, this westerly course of migration must of 
necessity pass into a southerly one. 

The observations of the late John Wolley (reported to me by 
letter by Professor A. Newton) furnish the most northern example 
of an autumn migration proceeding in a direction from east to west. 
By the end of his tirst year's stay at Muonioniska in Lapland, 68° N. 
lat., this observer already felt convinced that migration proceeded 
in this direction. He first recognised this fact from the numerous 
arrivals of the Yellow Bunting at the close of the summer. These 
birds could not have arrived in such numbers in that locality during 



32 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

the autumn migration from any other than an easterly direction. 
Henceforth the westerly course of these Buntings must have 
deviated towards the south, inasmuch as on the Shetland Islands 
only solitary instances of their occurrence have been reported 
(Saxby). They travel south as far as southern Sweden, where they 
again associate themselves with the westerly flights of memliers of 
their own species, whose breeding homes lie further south, and thus 
in part reach England, in the eastern counties of which countr}' 
their number regularly increases with the approach of winter. 

The case of the Shorelark is of similar kind ; these birds arrive 
in autumn in East Finmark from the east, and are consequently 
known there under the name of Russian Snow Buntings. Collett 
sa3-s (see Dresser, iv.) that they travel from Norway east, and 
thence down through Sweden, and are seen in Lower Norway only 
in exceptionally rare instances. In southern Sweden the}' unite 
themselves Avith those coming from Asia : and thus have arisen 
the innumerable hosts seen in Heligoland within the last decades. 
The further migratory movements of this sjiecies will be treated 
of under its proper place in the middle part of this work. 

In conclusion, we would mention the case of the Brambling. 
The nesting quarters of this bird lie in the northern part of Scan- 
dinavia, where they breed in great numbers, passing in autumn 
southward into the southern parts of the country. Here they 
evidently turn to the west, and fly across the North Sea, for they 
arrive in large flocks on the east coast of Scotland {Migration 
Reports). On the Orknej's and Shetlands, on the other hand, they 
occur far less numerously, which proves that on setting out from 
their nesting haunts they do not at once travel in a south-western 
direction, for in that case the main stream of migration would 
arrive on the above-named islands. Enormous numbers of these 
birds congregate in the interior of Scotland, and on the west 
coast, whence they continue their journey southwards ; lai'ge 
numbers winter in Spain, and in exceptional cases even cross 
the Straits of Gibraltar. 

I)uring the autumn months countless droves of land-birds, 
both the larger and smaller species, as well as of Ducks, Geese, 
Swans, and other water-birds, may be seen on the coast and interior 
parts of the west of Scotland. All these are hastening to their 
winter quarters on a southerly or south-south-easterly course. 
These droves consist, in part, of birds which, like the Brambling, 
after arriving on the east coast, have traversed the country in a 
westerly direction, partly of birds resident on the mainland of Scot- 
land, and partly of such whose breeding homes are in the Hebrides, 
and on the other islands of Scotland, situated nearer to the main- 



DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 33 

laud. The autumn migration of all these birds nuist of necessitj- 
proceed in a southerly direction. 

The flight of these migrants has thus been followed from 
eastern Asia to the Atlantic shores of Euro^DC. In the case of the 
most different species, and in districts so widely separated as central 
Germany, Heligoland, the eastern coast of Great Britain — including 
the Orkney and Shetland Islands — Norway up to a latitude of 70° 
N., in Finmark, the same results as to the direction of the migratory 
flight have been obtained. The latitudinal range of this migration 
front covers a stretch of no less than 960 geographical miles ; and 
we may therefore consider as established, the view previously 
expressed, that a large, if not the largest, number of our autumn 
migrants pass over the longest stretch of their migratory journey in 
a direction from east to west ; that while some may for a time change 
this course for a southerly one, the majoritj^ do not turn to the south 
before the termination of their westerly flight, and that in these move- 
ments they are entirely uninfluenced by the appearance and physical 
characters of the immense surface of continent they traverse. 

In this long ' wave of migration,' however, each of the many 
hundreds of species which compose it does not follow a migration 
route, more or less narrowly limited, of its own, but all on setting 
out from the breetling area take up a westerly course which, within 
the latitude of their nesting stations, they pursue to its final goal, 
some making temporary digressions to the south in the course of 
the journey, others not turning south until the concludmg stage of 
their migration has been reached. 

Of course it may happen that some fraction or other of a 
broad migration column, having got over a line of sea-shore lying 
far below its path, may continue its flight uninterruptedly along 
the same, but this is only because geological conditions have given 
the shore-line a course corresponding to the direction of the migra- 
tion movement, either from east to west or north to south, and 
ought in no sense to be attributed to any plan or purpose on the 
part of the wanderers. 

In order to show the fallacy of such an assumption, we need 
only to examine afresh, and somewhat more closely, the migration 
route of Richard's Pipit, and of the many other species from 
eastern Asia, which visit Heligoland in such large numbers every 
autumn. All these birds cover the immense distance from the other 
side of Lake Baikal to tiio eastern extremity of Prussia without the 
aid of any of the alleged road-marks or guide-posts : are we, there- 
fore, to assume that, when arrived at the Baltic, they suddenly become 
utterly incapable of continuing their journey, except by following 
the comparatively small span of coast to Holstein ? And when, 

c 



34 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

after having traversed this peninsula, they are in face of the North 
Sea, with eveiy coast soon out of sight, what further guide is there 
left them for the rest of their journey ? No doubt observers watch- 
ing successive droves of migrants flying above the shore in the 
direction of the coast-hne regarded these in the sense of one far- 
stretching host or stream of migration, Httle thinking that they 
themselves might possibly be stationed in the centre of a broad 
migi-ation column extending for miles on either side to sea and 
land. Such, nevertheless, was undoubtedl}' the case : in proof of this 
assumjjtion we may again cite the case of the Hooded Crows, which 
in endless hosts pass the island every autumn on an east-to-west 
course. The breadth of the migration column in this case may be 
estimated from the following considerations : — According to observa- 
tions from fishing-boats stationed seven miles north of the island 
it had not reached its limit at that distance ; while from the Weser 
steamer the birds were seen in undiminished numbers, and all 
pursuing the same westerly course, during the whole of her passage 
to the opposite coast, a distance of about six German or twenty- 
four geographical miles to the south. No doubt, had any of the 
above observers happened to be on any one of the islands on that 
coast, such as Wangeroog, Norderney, or Borkum, on a da}' like 
this, they would have at once appealed to their experience as 
furnishing a striking proof for their hj'pothesis — that migrants 
use shore-lines as marked-out migration routes, little thinking that 
they were really in the midst of a broad column or belt of migra- 
tion extending from the point of their observation from thirty-two 
to forty geographical miles northwards out to sea, and an equal if 
not greater distance inland to the south. 

Another example of an autumn migration jiroceeding in a broad 
front westwards was furnished by the Golden-crested Wren in Octo- 
ber 1882. During the whole time of its migration the bird travelled 
past Heligoland in extraordinary largo, in some cases quite 
vmcountable multitudes. Observations made simultaneously at 
all the lighthouses, lightships, and many land-stations on the east 
coast of England and Scotland, proved that on the 7th, <Sth, and 
9th, among other daj's of the above-named month, innumerable 
hosts of this little bird were migrating westwards at all these 
points, from Guernsey northwards as far as Bressay, in the middle 
of the Shetland group. Thus, then, we have a migration column 
embracing nearly eleven degrees of latitude, or about 640 geogra- 
phical miles ; nor is there any reason to doubt that this enormous 
cohunn may not have extended still further south, inasmuch as the 
breeding zone of the Golden-crested Wren by no means reaches its 
southern limit in the latitude of Guernsey — i.e. 49° N. latitude. 



DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 35 

According to the English Migration Report for 18S2, this 
astonishing mass-migration extended through the whole of England 
across the St. George's Channel to Ireland. It is, however, imjDossible 
to conceive that all these millions of birds could have wintered in 
Ireland ; they must accordingly, after reaching the latter country-, 
have turned on their course southward, and after once more crossing 
the sea, have landed on the coasts of Spain — a sea passage covering 
about the same distance as that between southern Sweden and the 
east coast of England — and accomplished the journey durmg long, 
pitch-dark October nights, under a sky overcast with dark clouds ; 
such being the meteorological conditions requisite, at least in 
Heligoland, for mass-migrations of this character. 

The fact that in more southern latitudes, especially durmg the 
autumn migration, some species are met with in large numbers at 
the banks or in the neighbourhood of streams, might at first sight 
appear to invalidate our conclusions as to migration movements in 
wide-reaching fronts or columns, and lend support to what is 
known as the theory of river routes. The explanation of this 
phenomenon is, however, a very simple one. Districts drained by 
rivers are generally endowed with a very varied vegetation, and a 
rich insect life ; consequently the}' are welcomed by the majority 
of migrants as most desirable feeding-places. All rivers running 
north or south, from the Ebro to the Lena, are traversed along the 
greater part of their course by the numberless hosts of migrants 
travelling westwards in more or less widely extending columns. 
It is easy to see that they would be used as halting stations by 
such sections of the migratory host as are in need of rest, food, or 
water. Consequently one may expect to meet with large numbers, 
frequently even multitudes of birds, along such river tracts, 
while on the other hand, in districts remote from streams, on 
barren moors or over miles of bare and levelled fields, their 
occurrence would, with the exception of Larks and suchlike species, 
be extreinely limited. Hence a superficial observation of such 
phenomena gave rise to the idea that migrants met with in the 
course of rivers and streams followed the courses of the latter 
— an idea which to all appearances seems more reasonable than 
the view that they had reached these quarters by a route crossing 
this du-ection. 

It is of course quite natural that birds, particularly such as 
migrate in autumn from north to south, should, imless compelled 
to hasten their journey, in intermediate latitudes, follow for a time 
the direction of a stream, or, what amounts to the same, of a valle}', 
in search of food. This, however, in no way touches the main 
question of the direction of migration generally. 



36 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

In support of the theory of river routes, the Large bulk of 
migrants met with during the autumn migration in such districts 
as the Rhone valley has been called into prominence. AVe have, how- 
ever, shown by what has been said above, that a phenomenon of this 
nature is not only a possibility but an actual necessity, and that it 
is determined by causes other than those generally assigned to it. 

The course of the Rhone from its confluence with the Saone 
lies, without any interruption worth mentioning, in an almost direct 
southerly direction. It lies accordingly in the path which would 
be followed by those southerly migrants travelling from Norway, 
Holland, and Belgium, across this part of France, in any case, even 
if there were no such stream flowing beneath this section of their 
migration front. 

However, happening to lie where it does, the river and its valleys 
are used by the birds as suitable feeding grounds ; and such species 
as in these southern latitudes are no longer obliged to hurry on, 
continue, after longer or shorter intervals of rest, to follow its course 
in their daily flights after food. 

In a similar manner, again, migrants from England travelling 
south, make use of the banks of the Loire as resting- and feeding- 
places, although its course from central France onward is from east 
to west, and consequently is crossed at right angles by the line of 
flight of these droves of migrants ; if, however, individuals are met 
with here, which actually follow the course of the stream, these can 
only belong to species, the main direction of whose migration flight 
is one to the west, and who persist in this course imtil they reach 
the west coast of France. 

Naumann (vol. i. Introduction), in speaking of the influence of 
meteorological conditions on migration, refers to the tendency 
exhibited by migrants who have reached rather advanced southern 
latitudes to relax their speed of flight in order to look about for 
nourishment at their ease. His remarks are as follows : ' The 
fowler will notice this — i.e. the apj^roach of bad weather — very 
frequently by the migratory movements of the smaller forest birds ; 
these, under such conditions, instead of directing their migration- 
flight towards bushes, thickets, and the like places, as they are 
accustomed, pursue their flight without stoppage over the oj^en 
country in a direct westerly course, their sole aim being to huiTy 
forwards, without even giving themselves time to feed to the 
satisfaction of their appetite.' The great ornithologist is here 
speaking of the smaller forest birds of his own home— Central 
Germany — and what he considers an exceptional movement, 
i.e. ' the uninterrupted flight direct to the west,' is in fact the 
main movement 'of the autumn flight as instigated by the 



DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 37 

migratory impulse, a movement which frequently becomes specially 
marked with a low and falling barometer ; whereas, on the other 
hand, what in the above passage ho alludes to as the customary 
migration-course of the birds is in reality a movement of a merely 
subsidiary character, though in this case one sutticiently powerful 
to attract notice in a latitude no further south than that of the 
district referred to. 

We will next proceed to the consideration of the second great 
movement of the autumn migration, viz. that which proceeds in 
a direction from north to south. This course of migration is 
j^eculiar to a large number of species, more esjicciallj^ such as have 
their breeding quarters in high northern latitudes, and, in re.spect 
to the numbers of individuals taking part in it, fully equals the 
great east-to-west migration, while, as regards the distance traversed, 
it in many cases even surpasses the latter movement. 

In proof of a migration proceeding in this direction may be 
cited many of the Warbler species, that of the Red-spotted Blue- 
throat being one of the most notable. This bird breeds in high 
northern latitudes of the Old World from Kamtschatka as far as 
the central and northern portions of Norway, while its winter 
quarters range throughout the whole of southern Asia and over 
the eastern half of north Africa. In Heligoland, as well as in 
Germany and Italy, it is of quite regular autumn occurrence ; in 
England, on the other hand, only solitary examples of the bird 
have ever been met with, and these only at intervals of many 
years, while in France and Spain it has never been observed at all 
(Dresser). 

It hence follows most decisively that the bird, in autumn, rigidly 
adheres to a southerly course of migration, and travels in a broad 
migration front which corresponds to the longitudinal range of its 
nesting area, and of which Heligoland forms the most western 
limit. Even a slight westerly deviation from their southerly course 
of such species as breed in the west of Norway could not fail to 
convey large numbers of these birds to the east coast of England, 
and their all but total absence there furnishes therefore an un- 
doubted proof of the persistency with which the southerly course 
of migration is in this instance adhered to. 

Another illustration of the north-to-south migration is furnished 
by the Red-throated Pipit (AvtJivs cervinus). This species also 
breeds in high latitudes from northern Asia to upper Norway, and 
in its autumn migrations likewise adheres to a most rigid southerly 
course, since it touches Heligoland only in the most exceptional 
cases, and has not been shot there more than six times within the 
last fifty years. Eversmann's Warbler (Sylvia borealis), too, seems 



38 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

to direct its migration-flight in an equally unswerving southerly 
line. The breeding homes of this bird range through the higher 
latitudes of northern Asia and Euroj^ean Russia to Finmark, while 
in winter it migrates as far south as the Sunda Islands. Collett 
met with this species during the summer months at the Porsanger 
Fjord beyond 70° N. latitude; such individuals could therefore 
migrate from this locality only in a line direct south, inasmuch as 
the bird has only once been shot in Heligoland — in October 1854 — 
and has never been observed in Germany. To these Warblers may 
be added the case of the Northern Nightingale {Sylvia philomela). 
The most western nesting stations of this bird are found in 
south Sweden and Denmark, and if it showed the least inclina- 
tion towards a westward deviation from its southerly autuum 
course, it would not fail to touch Heligoland, if only in small 
numbers, every autumn. Quite to the contrary, however, only 
one instance of its occurrence on the island has ever been recorded, 
and even that is really of no value to the subject under discussion, 
inasmuch as the bird in question was caught at the lantern of the 
lighthouse on the night from the 4th to the 5th of Maj- 1855. 

The area next to be discussed comprises Finland and the more 
northern parts of European Russia. Here we find the most 
western nesting stations of the Siberian Chiffchatf (iS?//.iu'« tristis), 
the Yellow-headed Wagtail (Motacilla citreola), the Yellow- 
breasted Bunting (Emherica aureola), the Terek Sandpiper (Li'inosa 
einerea), and the Red-footed Falcon, the last-named species being 
met with numerously even as far north as Archangel. The rare 
appearance of these species in Heligoland, or their total absence 
from the island, proves that their autumn migration nmst be strictly 
confined to a southerly course, since any deviation from such a 
line of flight to the west could not fail to conve}' them to Heligo- 
land in large numbers, as is the case with other species whose 
breeding homes lie in the same districts. The Siberian Chifl:chatf 
has only once been caught in Heligoland, though it has been seen 
on two subsequent occasions. Of the Yellow-headed Wagtail I 
have only taken five young birds in autumn plumage within the 
last fifty years, and of the Yellow-breasted Bunting during the same 
period, two young birds in autuum plumage and a female in the 
spring. The Terek Sandpiper has never been seen in Heligoland ; 
in Germany and northern France it appears to have been shot 
only once ; while it has been met with in no other districts 
lying to the west of its breeding stations. The Red-footed 
Falcon has been shot five times in Heligoland, but invariably 
in the summer, and under conditions which would lead one to 
assume that the birds in question would have to be counted among 



DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 39 



those breeding birds which, having lost their mates, happen to 
straggle to Heligoland from Greece and Asia Minor during the 
earlier summer months. This phenomenon will be treated more 
fully in the chapter on exceptional phenomena attending migration. 

We cannot tlismiss this subject of the great southerly move- 
ment of the autumn migration without referring to the truly enor- 
mous and wonderful stretches of road which some species are in 
the habit of covering during this movement. In this respect 
two species of Sandpipers — the Curlew Sandpiper and the Knot 
— are unsurpassed by any other. Up to the present we are 
unacquainted with the eggs of either species, though young in 
down of the Knot were brought home by Captain Feilden from 
Grinnell-Land in 82° N. latitude. The nesting-places of the Curlew 
Sandpiper, however, have not yet been reached, and can only exist 
in the islands or tracts of land situate within the Polar basin. For 
further details on this head the reader is referred to the separate 
descriptions of these species in the third part of this book. As 
these birds have been met with in the winter in New Zealand, 
they must have performed a southern flight equal to nearly half 
the circumference of the globe. 

Besides the two great migi'ation movements hitherto discussed — 
the one proceeding in a westerly, the other in a southerly direction 
— we are met with another most surprising phenomenon, viz., that 
more or less considerable numbers of individuals of many species 
whose normal autumn migration belongs to the latter (N.-S.) 
tj'pe, turn to the west on quitting their nesting stations, and migrate 
to western Europe instead of southern Asia. This tendency is 
by no means peculiar to those species whose breeding range extends 
to western Asia or north-eastern Europe, as is proved by the 
cases of the Siberian Chift'chatt", the Yellow-breasted Bunting, and 
the Terek Sandpiper. On the contrary, all our experience goes to 
show that it is more especially manifested by species whose 
breeding homes are farthest removed from Europe, as, for instance, 
in the case of the Yellow-browed Warbler, which breeds on the 
further side of the Jenesei ; and still more so in that of the Richard's 
Pipit, whose breeding stations lie on the farther side of Lake 
Baikal. IVIoreover, this tendency is generally confined to particular 
species only of a genus, being entirely absent in others of the same 
genus. In proof thereof we may cite the case of the Yellow- 
breasted Bunting and the Little Bunting — two species breeding in 
the north-east of European Russia — whose nests may bo found 
almost side by side. Of these the former has only been seen in 
Heligoland on three occasions within more than fifty years, and 
with the exception of an example met with at Genoa, has never 



40 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

been observed in central or western Europe. The Little Bunting, 
on the other hand, appears in Heligoland every autumn, and is 
frequently shot. I have myself handled it on no less than twenty 
or thirty occasions. In Holland the bird has been frequently 
caught during the autumn migration, and in one instance at least is 
known to have occurred in England ; several individuals have also 
been met with in Austria and Upper Italy. In the south of 
France, however, which seems to be the terminus of the autumn 
migration of the western migrants of this species, it is said to be ' the 
counnonest of the rarer Buntings,' small companies of it winter- 
ing at Marseilles. Inasmuch then as both species are found breed- 
ing in about equal numbers in the neighbourhood of Archangel, 
both too belonging to S23ecies whose autunm migration is directed 
south, we are confronted by the question as to what may possibly 
be the cause which determines the one, the Little Bunting, 
annually in large numbers to turn to the west on starting for the 
common nesting home, while the other, the Yellow-breasted 
Bunting, is hardly ever induced to swerve in this manner from its 
normal southerly course. 

There is no doubt that man}' species of birds have a tendency, 
apart from their normal southerly migration, to wander westward 
in greater or less numbers, while in the case of many others this 
appears never to be the case. The commoner, more widely dis- 
tributed species, however, do not offer the same favourable oppor- 
tunities for observing this phenomenon as those cited above, which 
are better adapted for an investigation of this kind by reason of their 
more showy plumage, or the more strictly defined range of their 
breeding quarters. That, however, many species from eastern 
Asia ai'e subject to such a tendency is proved b}' the large number 
of examples already mentioned as having been either killed or 
observed in Heligoland, to which may be further added : — The 
Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinui-:), White's Thrush {Tardus 
varius), Red-throated Thrush (T. riificollis), Black-throated Thrush 
(T. atrigularis), and Pale Thrush {T. pallens) ; Sylvia nitida, S. 
viridana, S. coroiudd, S. regidoides, S. fuscata, Booted Warbler 
(S. salicaria), Olivaceous Warbler {8. jKdlida), Paddyticld Warbler 
{S. agricola), and Pallas' Warbler (S. certhiola) ; the Black Lark 
(Alaudct tatarica), and the White-winged Lar)^ (A. sibirica); the 
Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustiai) and the Pine Bunting (E. 
pithy ornis); the Eastern Golden Plover {Charadrius fulvus) and 
the Caspian Plover (C asiaticus), as well as many other less pro- 
minent membei's of the feathered ti'ibe. 

The majority of the above-named species have, it is true, been 
shot only once on the island : nevertheless .some of them, .such as 



DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 41 

S. viridana, have occurred three times, the Rustic Bunting more 
than ten times, and White's Thrush more than fifteen times. 
Moreover, from a hst of this length, comprising so many prominent 
species, we may conckide with certainty that many others not 
mentioned therein have visited the island without being observed ; 
while the fact of such a large number of species having occurred 
within so small an area as Heligoland seems to show that occur- 
rences of this kind must be far more frequent every autumn in a 
country so near as Germanj', as well as in central and western 
Europe. 

If, now, we turn our attention to the spring migration, we shall 
at once find that this is characterised, in all its various phenomena, 
by striking differences from the great autumn movement which we 
have just discussed. Here we nowhere meet with any attempt at 
dividing the long migration flight into short convenient stages, 
such as is often the case after the tirst great advance during the 
autumn migration ; nor do the birds at this time anywhere 
exhibit a tendency for taking long spells of rest in the course of 
their journey. Unrest and an impelling haste are everywhere the 
prominent characters of the movement during its whole progress. 

Of the migrants which have arrived before daybreak, or during 
the early morning hours, many continue their journey after only a 
few hours stay; by ten o'clock the majority have left the island, and 
soon after noon almost exQvy one of them has disappeared. Should, 
however, the weather promise to remain favourable, many others 
will make their appearance in the course of the same day. Among 
them flocks of Swifts are seen hmiying on, while Hooded Crows con- 
tinue to pass over till sunset. On calm sunnj' days, during the later 
hours of the afternoon, thousands of Curlews and related species 
may be seen, at heights of thousands of feet, tearing along in rapid 
flight from east to west across the island. Their clear calls are 
scarcely audible from the immense height ; but not one of the 
wanderers hesitates in his course, or shows even an inclination to 
tarr}^ for one brief moment. 

Indeed, in fine and favourable weather there is at such times 
scarcely a break in the great onward movement, for the passage of 
the high-flying species towards evening is followed, during the quiet 
interval of twilight, by that of the Song Thrushes, Redbreasts, Hedge 
Sparrows, Golden-crested Wrens, and others which are resuming 
their journey after a stay of a few hours or more, though, from 
their having already repaired to the shrubs and bushes of the 
gardens, one might have supposed they were intending to stay for 
the night. Suddenly, however, through the stillness of the evening 
there resounds the call-note of a bird as he rises on the wing. 



42 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Some of his comrades answer, and follow in his flight. After a 
considerable elevation has been attained the whole flock assembles, 
and soon all, travelling eastwards, have vanished from sight. Such 
departures take place an hour after sunset, after which there seems 
to be a short pause. Soon after midnight, however, the migration 
commences anew with the arrival of countless wanderers, whose 
numbers increase with each succeeding hour of the dawning day. 

In all the johenomena of the spring migration the motive of 
reaching a fixed goal within a strictly limited time, and for a 
definite purpose, is clearly manifested. It follows naturally that 
the direction of migration should be specially influenced by this 
aim, their nesting homes being generally situated in latitudes 
considerably above those of their winter quarters; the shortest 
route would be one in a direct line between these two termini, i.e., 
for the majority of species, in one directed more or less to the north. 
Such a course is, in fact, at once adopted in spring by those species 
whose migration in autunm had proceeded in a direction to the 
south ; but besides these we have the case of those migrants which, 
after at first following a main westerly course in their autumn 
migration, terminated their passage by a deviation to the south in 
England, France, and Spain, and in this manner also have reached 
latitudes lying considerably to the south of their breeding haunts. 
In the spring, however, such birds do not return to their nesting 
quarters by retraversing in the opposite direction the circuitous 
path of their autunm passage, but now travel in a direct line, 
leaving points touched at during their autumn migration far to the 
north of their new, less complicated route. In fact, if we represent 
the line of their autumn migration by the base and perpendicular 
of a right-angled triangle, the path of their return passage in spring 
will be represented by the hypotenuse of such a triangle.^ This 
will at once explain the remarkable phenomenon previously 
referred to, that all eastern species reaching Heligoland in autumn 
by a westerly course, but subsequently turning south, are hardly 

' As may be illustrated by the following figure :— 



^nfrot'or! 




Tr. 



DIRECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 43 

ever seen again in the island during the spring migration. Nor is 
this the case only with the rarer occurrences from eastern Asia, 
but other birds also — such as Richard's Pipit, which are considered 
quite common autumn visitors here — are hardly ever seen in spring 
except in the most isolated instances, these latter being undoubtedly 
individuals which have passed the winter in the south of England or 
Ireland. 

The same applies to the Yellow-browed Warbler, a bird which 
may be met with almost daily in favourable weather during the 
autumn migration, but which in spring has only been observed 
twice in the course of a long series of years. The Little Bunting, 
again, equally frequent in autumn, has never yet been observed in 
spring. Take, again, that very common species, the Hooded Crow ; 
every autvmm these birds ti'avel vid Heligoland to England in 
numbers so immense that a large part of them, unable to find suffi- 
cient room and food in the latter country, pass across the channel 
into the north of France. 

But scarcely half of the autumn visitors return vid Heligoland 
in the spring, and for the simple reason that the very birds which 
have crossed over to France travel on their return passage east, vid 
Holland and North Germany ; Heligoland and the North Sea 
being traversed only by such of the birds as have passed their 
winter in England. 

The direction of the latter birds on their return passage in 
spring is naturally from west to east. There remains, however, the 
astonishing and scarcely explicable phenomenon that all the migrant 
hosts, observed by day or heard during the night, move in spring 
just as they did in autumn, solely and without exception between 
these two points of the compass, viz. E. and W. In Heligoland, 
and on the sea around the island at least, not a migrant is to be 
seen in the spring travelling in a direction from south to north. 
Nevertheless, there must be a large number of birds whose misra- 
tion course in spring does proceed in the latter direction, as, for 
instance, the Bluethroats already mentioned, as well as Warblers, 
Wagtails, Chats, and many others. Such birds begin to arrive at 
dawn. By sunrise their numbers have increased to almost in- 
credible proiJortions, but diminish with equal rapidity in the course 
of a few hours without our being able to realise by our senses the 
manner and direction of either their arrival or departure. 

Moreover, in the case of species whose migrations proceed from 
north to south, and vice versd, we do not notice so marked a differ- 
ence between the numbers of individuals departing in autumn and 
returning in spring as is observed in the case of those species whose 
autumn migration, after proceeding from east to west, is terminated 



44 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

by a southerly deviation. Thus the Bluethroats, Redbreasts, 
small Warblers (Willow A\'arbler and Chiffchaff), Redstarts, Chats, 
and others, return in spring in numbers as large as those in which 
they departed in autunni. In fact, one would hardly believe that 
many a one must of necessity have succumbed to the dangers of a 
long winter absence. On the 26th of May 1880, for instance, all the 
gardens of the island teemed with the Northern Bluethroat to such 
an extent that their numbers in the nearest gardens wore adjudged 
by myself and my collectors at considerably above live hundred. 
Stonechats occurred in such quantities that Aeuckens estimated 
them at ' milliards,' while in my diar}' they are noted at the more 
modest but still respectable figure of 'many thousands.' I may 
remark in passing that, in the case of both species, old males were 
found in quite solitary instances only, which seems to show that the 
migration of the two species was approaching its close. 

We have stated in the course of this chapter that the birds 
perform the journey from their winter quarters to the breeding 
stations, if possible, in one uninterrupted flight. This view is 
supported in a high degree by observations made here incidentally 
during the capture of birds at night at the lighthouse. It is a fact 
well known to every fowler here, that, in the spring, the feathered 
wanderers do not begin to make their appearance until after mid- 
night, from about one to two in the morning ; that their numbers, 
moreover, do not only increase with the approach of day, but that 
fresh birds continue to arrive for a long time even after sunrise. 
Snipe and Blackbirds, in fact, continue to arrive in large numbers 
during the whole of the morning, especially if there has been a 
sharp hoar-frost before daybreak, and the morning is calm, Avarm, 
and sunshiny. 

Matters proceed quite in the opposite manner in autunm. The 
birds then arrive here as soon as it gets dark — from seven to eight in 
the evening. Their numbers do not increase as the night advances, 
but diminish with the approach of daylight. With the exception 
of the Hooded Crows and Finches — which only migrate during the 
day, and are joined during the morning by Starlings, who migrate 
both by night as well as day — the migration may be said to be 
virtually at an end by the time the sun has fully risen ; so that the 
snipe-catcher for instance, in autumn, if the catch has not been a 
very good one at dawn, will take in his nets as early as seven 
o'clock in the morning, whereas in spring he will, under similar 
conditions, leave them out till noon and even later, with good 
results. 

Inasmuch, then, as experience teaches us that of all the 
nocturnal migrants which come under consideration hero, some 



o 



DIEECTION OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 45 

begin to start on their journey towards evening, others soon after 
sunset, we can only explain the at first numerous, and afterwards 
gradually diminishing, arrivals during autumn nights, by assuming 
that these birds must have originated from near, or at least not 
very far off, homes ; while, on the other hand, the spring wanderers, 
arriving at one or two in the morning and increasing in numbers 
from that time onward, must have started from regions very far 
distant — the first arrivals, perhaps, from the south of Europe, the 
later ones from the northern or central regions of Africa. Among 
the latter, our old friend the Northern Bluethroat may be again 
cited as an instance ; the fact that this bird is never seen during 
the night by the lantern of the lighthouse, but invariably makes 
its appearance here in Heligoland only towards sunrise, is a further 
proof of its long journey from northern Africa — a journey, per- 
formed in one uninterrupted flight, which may well excite our 
astonishment and admiration. 

As we have shown in this chapter, the routes by which birds 
travel twice during the year in order to accomplish their special 
purposes, are as different from each other as those purposes are 
themselves. The autumn migration conducts the travellers in 
various directions to their winter quarters. These extend from 
west Africa through India to the Philippine Islands, some species 
from eastern Asia even advancing as far south as Australia and 
New Zealand. From this enormous migration-front, embracing 
half the circumference of the globe, flocks in their thousands pour 
forth in spring, in incessant haste and bj^ a direct road, to their far- 
off homes at a greater or less distance from the Pole. At this time, 
the numbers migrating between west and east are considerably 
diminished. It makes, however, but little difference whether in 
autimin the number of those migrating from east to west exceeds 
that of the travellers from north to south, or whether in the spring 
those journeying from the Equator to the Pole form the pre- 
dominant majority. Both phases of the great movement unfold a 
picture of bird-life of incompi-ehensible grandeur, presenting to our 
wondering sight myriads of these restless wanderers hastening 
during the long dark nights of autunm or the starlit midnight 
hours of spring, by many intersecting paths, to their far-ofi' winter 
quarters or nesting homes ; each species following, at higher or 
lower regions in the sky, a sure and definite road, not marked out 
for them alont; river courses or mountain chains, but one that leads 
them, independent of every physical configuration of the earth's 
surface, and at heights many thousands of feet above it, surely and 
safely to the distant goal. 



III. ALTITUDE OF THE MIGRATION 

FLIGHT 

The altitude at which the various species of birds fly during their 
migrations is another aspect of the jDhenomenon which has in a 
special degree attracted the notice of observers. Observations 
extending over many j'ears have led me to the conclusion that, as 
long as migration proceeds under its normal conditions, this eleva- 
tion is, in the case of by far the larger number, so great as to be 
completely beyond the powers of human observation; while we 
must regard as disturbances and irregularities of the migration 
movement proper, due to meteorological mfluences, such portions of 
it as are brought within our notice. Here I ought to remmd the 
reader, that when 1 speak of migration proper, I mean those large, 
extensive movements which, on the one hand, in autumn, conduct 
our migrants from their breedmg homes to or very near to their 
winter quarters in one uninterrupted, and for the most part, 
nocturnal flight ; and on the other hand, in spring, convey them in 
the opposite direction from their winter quarters to their breeding 
haunts — the uninterrupted continuity of the flight being still more 
marked in this latter phase of the migratory phenomenon. 

Quite of another kind from this main movement are those 
shorter peregrinations, at low elevations in the air, which many 
birds perform in greater or smaller companies during the day, 
chiefly in autumn. By wanderings such as these, which cease as 
the day declines, the birds pass from field to field and wood to 
wood, picking up food on theu- way. Companies of this kind are 
probably more or less mixed as regards the species composing 
them, and may be looked upon as consisting partly of members of 
the main body of migrants which are taking a temporary rest 
during their journey, or of birds from more or less neighbouring 
districts which are about to join the main stream of wanderers, all 
such individuals, though influenced by particular meteorological 
conditions, being nevertheless unable to resist the migratory 
impulse working from within. Short day-trips of this kind, how- 



ALTITUDE OF THE MIGEATION FLIGHT 47 

ever, are performed by the birds at their ordinary everyday speed 
of flight, and have nothing in common with the great and powerful 
migration flight which is here under consideration, and which, as it 
is displayed pre-eminently in Heligoland, proceeds at unknown 
heights, with a tremendous velocity, and, for the most part, during 
the dark hours of nieht. 

Though observations on the extreme height of the flight of 
birds, so far as this can be ascertained directly by our power of 
sight, are naturally very limited, our experience in this du-ection 
nevertheless goes to show that birds can exist without difficulty in 
strata of the air at such heights and of such a low density as neither 
man nor any other warm-blooded creature could live in for any 
length of time. Birds, therefore, must be organised in such a 
manner as, on the one hand, to be uninfluenced by so considerable 
a diminution of air-pressure as one meets with at heights from 
25,000 to 30,000 feet, and, on the other hand, they must be able to 
exist on the considerably reduced supply of oxygen obtainable in 
strata of such rare density. Or, again, their respiratory apparatus 
must be of such a nature as to be capable of abstracting from 
these rarefied air-strata the amount of oxygen required by the blood, 
as easily as it is able to remove it from the denser layers close to 
the earth's surface. An organisation of this kind would give to 
birds a completely distinct and unique position among all warm- 
blooded animals. 

If then, we are obliged to assume the existence of a special 
respiratory mechanism enabling birds to remain in strata of the 
atmosphere beyond the reach of all other organised living beings, 
how much more difficult is it to account for the means which render 
them capable of flying in an atmosphere whose power of supporting 
weight, i.e. buoyancy, is so considerably reduced. The first idea 
which here suggests itself is that birds are capable of taking in 
relatively large quantities of air, and of storing these for any desir- 
able time, employing for this purpose not only the cavities of such 
of their bones as are devoid of marrow, but more especially, and in 
a considerably greater degree, the air-sacs which lie within the 
thoracic and abdominal cavities, as well as between the outer inte- 
gument and the body walls. Air-sacs of this latter kind are found, 
so far as my own observations go, on all parts of the body devoid of 
quill-feathers, and reach their largest extent on both sides of the 
base of the neck, below the wings and behind the thighs. Anatomy 
proves that all these air-sacs are connected with the lungs, and are 
filled from the latter organs. Probably owmg to the possession of 
these air-sacs, the flight of birds in the higher strata of the air is 
so much facilitated that they are enabled to apply the muscular 



48 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

230wer of their instruments of flight ahnost excUisively to the 
execution of their forward movements. This results partly from 
the fact that by the tilling of the air-sacs the volume of the bird is 
enlarged, and its specific weight consequently diminished, but also 
from the air taken in at anj- particular height being warmed by 
the heat of the body, and considerabl}' rarefied in consequence, so 
that the contents of the air-sacs are always considerably lighter 
than the air which occupies surrounding sjDace. 

My own observations go to prove that the total voliane of the 
outer air-sacs when filled with air in itself already exceeds that of 
the bird's body, and that if we add to this the volume of air con- 
tained in the thoracic and abdominal cavities, and in the bones 
and quills of the feathers, we may estimate the total volume of air 
contained by the bird as easily exceeding that occupied by the 
solid substance of its body. On the other hand, the temperature 
of the atmospheric layers in question is always considerably below 
the freezing point. Thus Glai.sher at a height of 20,000 feet noted 
a temperature of —25° C. (13' F. below zero) ; and since the internal 
body-heat of birds is about 42° C. (1076° F.), the difference of 
temperature between the outer air and that of the air contamed 
in the air-sacs may reach 67° C. and above. 

More exact calculations, based on physical laws, have un- 
doubtedly compelled us to recognise that this warm charge of air 
in the air-sacs of birds is unable to facilitate their flight to any con- 
siderable extent. Nevertheless, long-continued observations in 
Nature have convinced me that birds must be endowetl with a cer- 
tain capacity for soaring or floatmg in the air which is independent 
of the use of their external instruments of flight. Such a thought 
at once suggests itself if we watch birds, like, for instance, the large 
gulls, who soar about for hours long over the sea, be the weather 
stormy or perfectly calm, at heights up to six hundred feet, advanc- 
ing or turning about in whatever direction they please, without 
executing the least movement with their wings. It is impossible to 
conceive that excellent flyers like these should be able to maintain 
these soaring movements for so long a time, and without all apparent 
efforts, if thcj' had not at their couunand other means besides the 
mechanical aid of their wings. 

If, as I have had occasion to do for many years, one pays atten- 
tion to the large numbers of Buzzards when the}' are about to 
depart, one cannot fail to be convinced of the existence of some 
such accessor}' means of locomotion. In one such instance, that of 
the Common Buzzard, the birds soared over the island at an eleva- 
tion of about two hundred feet. I intentionally confined my atten- 
tion exclusively to one individual. Without any motion of its wings, 



ALTITUDE OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 49 

this bird mounted higher and higher ; when it had reached an eleva- 
tion of about four hundred feet, it performed two or three strokes 
with its wings, and then soared upwards without an}^ further wing- 
movements. There was a very hght south-east wind — in fact almost a 
calm — at the time, and a light white stratum of cirrus clouds, miles 
high, covered the sky uniformly ; the meteorological conditions 
being, in fact, as favourable as possible for observations of this kind. 
The bird's position in the air lay in a direction about south-south- 
east — in fact, very nearly south. "Without changing the direction 
of the axis of its body, or even its horizontal jDosition, it reached, 
soaring vertically upwards, in the course of a minute, a height of at 
least 1000 feet, and still continuing in its upward course, finally 
disappeared from view in the clear noon-day sky in company of from 
twenty to thirty other birds of the same species. 

The fact that these birds soar upwards without wing-movements, 
and yet steadily and rapidly in unbroken lines, to heights where the 
human eye can no longer reach them — in the present case at least 
12,000 feet — renders this phenomenon still more remarkable, and 
gives it a most striking likeness to the ascent of a balloon. 

An attentive observation of the flight of the large gulls, soaring 
for hours at the same height in a perfectly calm atmosphere, with- 
out the least motion of their wings, is indeed sufticient to convince 
us that the expanded wing-surface alone could not be suthcient to 
prevent the bird from sinking, in virtue of its weight, after the fashion 
of a parachute. How much less, therefore, is it possible that an up- 
ward movement like that of the Buzzards noted above could be 
effected by an immovable expanded surface of this kind ? For 
further remarks on this subject, see under Herring Gull, Part iii. 
No. 358. 

By executing a number of wing-strokes, repeated at longer or 
shorter intervals, birds may acquire a certain velocity of flight 
which would enable them, by slightly raising the forepart of their 
bodies, to glide, as it were, upwards supported by the resistance of the 
air. In this manner they would be enabled to ascend in a spiral 
path, as actually was the case with some Common Kestrels which were 
accompanying the above-mentioned Buzzards in their migration. 
Some birds, again, like many of the smaller species of Falcons, 
when engaged in what is known here as 'Rtitteln' {i.e. shaking), 
or Larks during their song, are able by means of a rapid, almost 
trembling motion of the wings, to i-emain for a moment suspended 
at a particular point in the air ; none, however, can, by the sole 
help of their outspread wings, remain soaring for any length of 
time in a calm atmosphere at the same height, — to say nothing 
of rising upward. 

D 



50 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Instance after instance might he cited in support of what has 
been said above ; we shall, however, let one suffice, and that the 
case of a bird which may appear little adapted for a soaring flight 
of this kind — to wit, the Golden Plover. In the autumn, when the 
young birds of this species are shot here, it is usual to decoj' them 
within range by imitating their call-note. The birds, though in 
other respects not particularly distrustful, are rendered shy through 
being repeatedly shot at, and in consequence fly to heights beyond 
shooting range ; nevertheless, they may be lured back to the desir- 
able distance by the stratagem above referred to. When the birds 
decoyed in this manner have come into a position in the air nearly 
vertically above the head of the shooter, they almost invariably 
remain soaring, with calmly outspread wings, for a shorter or longer 
time over the same spot, spying downwards and answering the 
feigned call-notes, until, discovering that they are not those of their 
kindred, they quickl}' hasten off" with rapid beatings of the wings. 

These birds are almost without exception well nourished, and 
their weight is, in proportion to the surface-area of their wings, so 
considerable, that, unless they were supported by other accessory 
means, they would, in the absence of any movement of their wings, 
be at once obliged to sink. These means, in the present case, how- 
ever, neither consist in any rapid movements on the part of the 
birds, as already stated above, nor in air-currents, since the shooting 
of these birds, as a rule, only goes on in fine and jDerfectly calm 
weather. 

All attempts with which I am acquainted, to account for the 
flight of birds, are based on the assumption that birds are able both 
to maintain themselves suspended in the air as well as to move for- 
ward in it, either by continuous — more or less rapid — movements of 
their wings, in the same way as a man uses his arms in swimming, 
or that the same end may be attained without these continuous 
wing-movements, through the agency of a current of air of sufficient 
strength ; but that, without either the one or the other of these 
conditions, flight is an impossibility. Captain F. W. Hutton says 
in his Mechanical Principles 'involved in the Sailing-ji igJit of 
the Albatross : ' In a perfectly calm atmosphere an Albatross 
with outspread wings would drop unless it Avas also executing a 
forward movement.' 

My own unremitting observations, however, extending over a 
lifetime, aided by an artist's eye specially trained for form and 
motion, and subjected to the most severe self-criticism, are so nuich 
at variance with all explanations based on mechanical laws, of the 
kind referred to above, that I am obliged to consider the question 
of bird-flight, as yet, as an unsolved and perfectly open one. 



ALTITUDE OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 51 

The habit of immersing a part or the whole of their bodies under 
water, which is pecuhar to many, if not all. Divers, is related to that 
of aerial soaring, although this action is executed in an exactly 
opposite manner. Great Northern Divers, Grebes, Cormorants, 
Diving-Ducks, and other related species, if pursued— while swim- 
ming on the sea — for any considerable time by shooters in boats, 
gradually immerse themselves to such a depth that only their 
heads and the upper parts of the neck project above the water. 
If, however, they are very hard pressed, they sink completely below 
the surface, and swim for a distance of fi-om a hundred to a hundred 
and fifty paces horizontally beneath it, only momentarily exposing 
their heads and necks for the purpose of breathing. Grebes, indeed, 
especially if they have been already shot at, will, under such condi- 
tions, expose nothing but their beaks up to the eyes. 

All these bnds when alive and undisturbed (as also do their car- 
cases) float so hghtly on the water that they scarcely make any 
noticeable depression in it. Nor is this surprising, for all of them 
have their undersides clothed with a covering of down and feathers ; 
in the case of a somewhat shrunken specimen of a medium-sized 
Grebe in my cabinet this covering has nevertheless a thickness of 
15 mm. (0o9 m.), whUe in a Great Northern Diver of the same size 
it reaches a thickness of from 20 to 25 mm. (0-79 in. to 0'98 in.). It 
is perfectly easy to understand how birds can, without difficulty, 
float on the water on an almost weightless support of this nature, 
which is, moreover, filled with warm air ; but it is difficult to explain 
how, in spite of such a float, they are able to iuunerse themselves 
under the water, and to remain for any desirable length of time 
beneath the surface. Thus a Little Grebe managed to escape obser- 
vation on a piece of water about sixty paces in diameter and from 
two to three feet in depth, by immersing itself up to its beak and eyes 
in the middle of the pond, and remaining quietly beneath the surface. 
What is still more surprising, the bird selected for its hiding-j^lace a 
part of the pond where some dried grass-blades, and wood-shavings 
about an inch long, were floating about, which entirely diverted 
one's attention ft-om the insignificant portion of its head and beak 
which were still visible above the water. On another occasion, a 
bird of the same species remained quietly immersed at the margin 
of the same pool, where the water was only about six inches deep, 
60 that only its beak and eyes remained above the surface. It 
should moreover be noted that, in the first instance, the depth of 
the water, as well as the absence of any kind of vegetable growth, 
completely precludes the supposition that the bird might have 
■obtained some kind of hold or attachment under the water, while 
in the last case the bottom was so level and hard that it is quite 



52 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

out of the question that the bird could have held on to it with its 
feet. In both cases the birds remained perfectly motionless, since 
the least motion would, at so short a distance — at most some thirty 
paces — have at once betrayed their hiding-places. Naumann, in 
vol. ix. of his great work, relates similar experiences in regard to 
this small Diver. 

Another extremely valuable opportunity of observing this quiet 
immersion of the body was presented to me many years ago in the 
case of a Cormorant in a pond in the Zoological Gardens at Ham- 
burg. For the purpose of catching some of the swallows which 
■were roving in fairly large numbers over the surface of the water, 
the bird had innnersed itself to such a depth that only its head 
remained visible above the surface ; in this position it remained 
perfectly motionless, for the least movement of its feet Avould have 
been at once betrayed on the perfectly smooth surface of the water. 
The swallows, foreboding no ill, frequently came up very close to it, 
and when the bird thought it could reach one of them, it would, 
quick as lightning, protrude its neck and make a snap at it. After 
four or five unsuccessful attempts, it actually did manage to catch 
one of them, which it swallowed after givino; it a few shakes in the 
water. It then quietly re- immersed its body as before, and with 
neck drawn in continued to lie in ambush for further prey. 

This immersion of the body in and below the water witnessed 
in such birds must not be confused with their diving for food, which 
may be seen every day. In the performance of this operation the 
body is placed in a neai'ly vertical jjosition, and is then driven 
beneath the water by powerful upwardly-directed strokes of their 
swimming feet; hence the desired result is obtained simply by the 
expenditure of mechanical force, just as the ordinary flight of 
birds through the air is attained by rapid and powerful strokes of 
the wings. 

To enable the bird, however, to immerse its body under the 
surface of the water slowly, and to maintain it in that position 
without movement, it is necessary that its specific weight slioidd be 
increased considerably above that of the water, and it is quite 
impossible to see how this can be effected. The total bulk of the 
solid parts of the body of a Great Northern Diver may be estimated 
at about one cubic foot : hence, in order to be enabled to sink, the 
weight of this bulk should exceed that of the same volume of sea- 
water. It does not, however, actually amount to the fourth part of 
this weight ; for the heaviest of these Divers I have ever examined 
weighed fifteen pounds, whereas a cubic foot of water from the 
North Sea weighs sixty-two pounds. This already considerable 
difference between the weight of the bird's body and that of an 



ALTITUDE OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 53 

equal volume of water is, however, still further increased by the 
covering of dovm or feathers, which, permeated by warm air, 
surrounds the body as already mentioned. 

Hence, after all that has been said above, the question how the 
body of a bird is enabled to sink and remain for any length of time 
beneath the surface of a specifically heavier medium, like water, 
becomes as difficult of explanation as that of the capacity for soaring 
up into a specificallj' lighter medium, such as the air, unassisted as 
these faculties are, in both instances, by mechanical aids, or currents 
of air, or water, respectivel}-. 

The capacity of birds for rising to great heights in the air is 
undoubtedly turned to account to a certain extent by some or per- 
haps by many species, even during the ordinary activities of their 
everyday life. Thus Vultures, and — according to von Middendorff 
{Isepij>tesen) — Common Ravens, ascend to astonishing heights for 
the pur^Jose of finding food. In general, however, this peculiar 
faculty is brought into full and continued requisition only during the 
migration fiight, which is in fact the only occasion on which it can 
be fully turned to account. It is consequently beyond denial that 
this faculty must have been imparted to birds solely for jDurposes 
of migration. Observations in Nature most convincingly testify to 
the truth of this conclusion, since birds, without exception, on start- 
ing for their great migration journeys, immediately rise to heights 
elevated far above the regions of their daily flights — heights, more- 
over, which in the case of the vast majority of species, are com- 
pletely beyond the range of all human perception. 

In the case of our small Warblers— Thrushes, and the like, — this 
limit of visible elevation may perhaps not amount to much. It is 
otherwise with the larger-sized birds, as, for instance, the Stork, 
or 23referably the dark-plumaged Crane, a bird which rises into the 
clear sky with an expanse of wings of from seven to eight feet, until 
it becomes almost indiscernible to a keen eye (Naumann), at a 
height which can hardly be estimated at less than 15,000 to 20,000 
feet. A dark-coloured flag, from seven to eight feet in length, on a 
ship, may still bo distinctly recognised at a distance of a mile. At 
the same time it is well to remember that the conditions for seeing 
far-off objects are far more favourable in vertical than in horizontal 
distances. 

The most astonishing results in regard to the heights to which 
birds will rise spontaneously, and at which they are capable of 
remaining for any desirable length of time, have been furnished by 
the observations made on the Condor by Humboldt in the Andes, 
according to which this bird wheeled about in the air in that district 
for hours at a height of 22,000 feet (Ansichten der Natur, ii. p. 52). 



54 THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Humboldt, however, subsequently added that the bird jjrobably 
attained even greater altitudes than those obtained by calculation, 
and states that on Cotopaxi, 13,578 feet above sea-level, he had seen 
it soaring above him at such a height that it apjjeared no larger 
than a small black ' dot.' This height cannot with certainty have 
been less than 30,000 feet. From calculation we find that an object 
eleven feet in diameter would require to be at more than double 
that elevation before it disappeared from view; and, according to 
Humboldt's statement, eleven feet maj^ be assumed as the average 
expanse of the wings of the Condor during flight. An idea of the 
almost incredible distance at which objects may be seen in the 
clear mountain air of these regions may be formed from further 
reports of Humboldt, according to which he was able with the 
naked eye to observe Bonpland, who, clad in a white mantle, was 
riding along the dark face of a clift' at a horizontal distance of 
84,132 feet. 

Practical observations made in the open air in Heligoland 
have yielded similar results. The oyster bank, which lies to the 
east of the island at a distance of 22,000 feet, is frequently visited 
by vessels ; if one of these on a clear day were to display a flag of 
the same breadth as the expanse of wing of the Condor, it would 
not only be at once seen from the island, but in a favourable light 
an eye of ordinary keenness might even be able to recognise its 
colours — say, blue, red, and white. 

One is justified in assuming, that in the high clear mountain air 
in which Humboldt's observations were made, the distance at which 
the bird was visible was at least as great as that at which a flag of 
a breadth equal to that of the bird's wings could be seen in a low, 
mist-laden atmosphere, like that round Heligoland. Hence there 
can be no doubt that 40,000 feet is only a low estimate for the 
height of the Condor's flight above sea-level. 

Eesults such as these tend to make one hesitate in pronouncing an 
opinion as to the altitude of the flight of a bird, such as, for instance, 
the Grey Yulture, with a wing-expanse of ten feet, one of which 
Dresser watched through a good pair of field-glasses, until the bird 
before disappearing from sight, was reduced to the size of a small dot. 

In comparison with observations like these, my own experiences 
in this place in regard to this subject will appear insignificant. The 
main result deducible from them, however, is, that, with few excep- 
tions, the altitudes of migration are far beyond the limits of vision of 
the sharpest eye. Cf course, the various species differ as much from 
each other in the height of their migration as they do in regard to 
the direction in which the movement proceeds; but in the case of 
the vast majority of migrants, both on arrival and departure, the 



ALTITUDE OF THE MIGRATIOX FLIGHT 55 

vertical elevation at which they appear and disappear invariably 
represents the limit to which human vision is able to penetrate. 
On the other hand, the number of species whose normal migration 
flight does not exceed a few hundred feet above the earth's surface, 
is hardly worth mentioning; and even of these, some, like the Rooks 
and Curlews alread}- referred to, will, under certain conditions, pass 
across Heligoland at heights as considerable as 10,000 to 15,000 
feet. 

I have seen Sparrowhawks arriving here during the autumn 
migi-ation, which, as they became visible vertically overhead, 
appeared no lai'ger than small specks of dust, and must, according 
to a fairly reliable estimate, have been at a height of no less than 
10,000 feet. My scale of comparison in this computation is the 
distance of the extreme southern point of Sandj' Island, amounting 
to 8000 feet. Among the large droves of Hooded Crows which fly 
across this point during the migration period it is possible to dis- 
tinguish from the clitf, with the utmost ease, every single bird; 
whence it seems quite out of the question that the height at 
which the above-named Hawks became visible was in any way 
estimated too highly. 

The arrival of these Sparrowhawks took place on a bright 
autumn afternoon; the sky was uniformly covered by the high, 
white, streaky kind of clouds, specially favourable for observations 
of this nature. For the space of about an hour the birds kept 
coming in sight at the height before mentioned, singly and in 
groups of three or four, wheeling about in circles as they descended 
to lower altitudes. 

In the case of other species, this descent from heights at which 
the birds are not visible proceeds in a different manner. Eingdoves 
and Woodcock often precipitate themselves with the rushing noise 
of a rocket, but with far greater velocity, in an almost perpendicular 
line, or describe a zigzag — single or double — in their descent. The 
bird itself may not yet be visible ; but if, attracted by the rushing 
sound, one looks in the direction whence it proceeds, one notices 
a small irrecognisable dot, which however, almost at the same 
moment, shoots past one in the form of a bird. Doves break their 
descent when they are still a considerable distance from the ground; 
but Snipe rush down to within two or three feet from the siu-face, 
and continue in a roving course at a very low elevation above it. 
Occasionally, too, they sweep with undiminished velocity right down 
to the rubble at the base of the cliff, where all of a sudden they are 
found sitting as quietly as though they had never been on the move. 
In each instance of this kind one is surprised that the bird had not 
dashed itself to pieces against the ground. Song Thrushes, also, 



56 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

descend with a rush of this kind during the stiUness of early 
morning ; but, instead of being vertical, or nearly so, the course of 
their descent is very much inclined. 

Quite different is the manner in which the small songsters, 
such as Eedstarts, Warblers, \Miin Chats, and similar species, make 
their appearance. One meets with these suddenly on fine sunny 
mornings in countless hosts, whose numbers go on increasing 
steadily without the arrival of any single one of them having been 
noticed ; nor is it possible to say from what direction they had 
come. On the other hand, Chaffinches are seen to arrive in flocks 
at gi-eat heights, appearing like fine dust. After jnuch wheeling 
about in the air, amid loudly -uttered cries of ' bink-bink,' they 
descend and hasten to what few bushes and shrubs the island can 
offer them. 

In short, almost every species descends in its own peculiar 
manner, but almost all in the first instance become visible at very 
great altitudes as scarcely perceptible specks. 

From the manner and mode of their departure, one is led to the 
conclusion that birds at once attain to a very high migration flight 
in this movement. Many of them travel as solitary wanderers at 
great heights ; others, like the Cranes, in companies, ascend in a 
circling course until they disappear from view. Sparrowhawks 
and Common Kestrels I have seen making their way upwards on a 
similar spiral path, until they became totally invisible. The balloon- 
like ascent of the Buzzard has already been alluded to. In the 
case of Song Thrushes, Redbreasts, Hedge Sparrows, Golden-crested 
Wrens, and many other species, one of the birds, soon after sunset, 
rises before the rest, whom it summons for departure with loud 
call-notes. The remaining members of the band then congregate 
from all directions, and, with breasts directed upwards and rapid 
powerful strokes of the wings, fly almost perpendicularly upwards, 
describing whole or half circles at irregular intervals. When no 
other loiterers are attracted by the call-notes, these ai'e silenced, 
and, soon after, the birds disappear in the deep blue of the far-off 
sky. (See Golden-crested Wren.) 

The birds which, in respect to the height of their migration 
flisfht come next in oi'der to those already enumerated, consist for 
the most part of species allied to the Snipes, such as Curlews, 
Godwits, Plovers, and their relatives. These travel, especially on 
clear afternoons in spring, in flocks or smaller groups, almost 
always at very great elevations, and, for the most part, at the 
e.xtreme limit of our visual range. How far above this limit their 
flight extends cannot be determined; but there can be no doubt 
about their exceeding it, for frequently their clear call-notes are 



e> 



ALTITUDE OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 57 

heard faintly, but still distinctly, from heights to which, despite 
every effort, it is impossible for the human eye to penetrate. 

At night, also, immense hosts of these birds, as well as of the 
different species of Sandpipers, in scattered flocks as well as in end- 
less streams, travel across Heligoland. In this case, however, the 
altitude of flight of the birds docs not often exceed two hundred feet 
above the cliff, as may be partially ascertained by observation within 
the luminous circle of the lighthouse, but on a still greater scale 
from the sound of their voices. It must not, however, be assumed 
that birds migrate at lower elevations at night than during the day- 
light. Cases in which this occurs must be regarded as distiu-bances 
of the normal height of flight j^roduced by meteorological influ- 
ences. This will be discussed in further detail in the chapter on 
the meteoroloCTical conditions which influence misfration. 

Finally, the number of species whose migration jjroceeds usually 
only a few hundred feet above the surface of the sea, or, in many 
cases, in its immediate proximity, is extremely small. According 
to my own experience of many years, it does not go beyond the fol- 
lowing three, viz. the Hooded Crow, the Starling, and the Lark. The 
last of these birds will, on clear days, rise to a height of from 600 
to 1000 feet. Hooded Crows travel at such a height in exceptional 
cases only, and Starlings extremely rarely. All three species migrate 
at a greater elevation in spring than in autumn ; but during both 
migration periods, especially in dull windy weather. Hooded Crows, 
and still more markedly Larks, frequently fly immediately above the 
surface of the water. I have never noticed this to happen in the 
case of Starlings ; these, unless they intend to rest on the island, 
hasten across it at a height of from two to three hundred feet, in 
numerous densely-crowded swarms, and with a kind of impetus as 
though each bird was endeavouring to outstrip the other. In 
exceptional instances. Larks will on bright spring days travel at 
such heights that, even under the most favourable conditions of 
the atmosphere, one can only recognise them by their call-notes, 
the birds themselves being completely out of the range of vision. 
I have noticed the same phenomenon in the case of Jackdaws 
and Rooks. 

A striking proof of the direct and important influence which 
meteorological conditions exercise on the height of the migration 
flight is furnished by the large numbers of migrants which are 
captured at Heligoland during dark nights, being in part attracted 
thither by the lantern of the lighthouse. 

A necessary condition for this capture is a dark, uniformly 
overcast sky, especially if there be at the same time a very fine 
precipitation of moisture. Under such conditions, Larks and 



58 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Thrushes, which in jiart swarm round the lantern and settle every- 
where on the plain of the Highland, are principally captured — 
sometimes in astonishing quantities. Thus, on the night of the 
6th of November 1868, no less than 15,000 Larks were caught in 
the space of about three hours. Unfortunately, the moon rose at 
ten o'clock and put an end to the capture. No less than 3400 of 
these birds, besides innumerable Starlings, several Snipe, and many 
Blackbirds, were caught against the panes of the lighthouse lantern 
alone. It is therefore impossible to form even a remote estimate of 
the figure to which the spoil would have mounted if there had been, 
for the whole of this remarkable migration night, what is known as 
a ' dark moon.' 

The appearance of a single star, or a fragment of blue skj^ 
through the dense and uniform blackness of the night, or the faint 
gleam on the horizon which announces the rising moon, is followed, 
as on the date above mentioned (6th of November), by the imme- 
diate disappearance of the crowds of wanderers with whose manifold 
voices the air had been fiUod but a few moments before : all having 
risen to heights to which it is impossible for the eye to follow : nor 
can even a single call-note be any longer heard from afar. Neverthe- 
less, there is no interruption to the stream of migration itself ; for 
if, half an hour, or an hour or two afterwards, dense and uniform 
darkness should 'once more envelope the sky, the birds may teem 
again on aU sides, and the capture proceed anew. 

What has been said above illustrates in the clearest manner how 
an apparently slight change in atmospheric conditions at once 
influences the height of the migration flight, and how Uttle is 
required either to bring this flight within our powers of observation 
or to withdraw it from the perception of our senses. Here I must 
once more repeat my opinion as to the comparatively insignificant 
value of recording data of the occurrences of birds at definite 
points. To control a district about four miles in diameter, and pre- 
senting the varied features of wood, moor, corn-fields, meadows, and 
water, is in itself almost an impossibility. How would one be able 
to determine day by day what difl'erent species have occurred in 
such ditierent localities I The case of Heligoland is, of course, 
diiferent, for here we may say without hesitation that literally not 
a single bird escapes observation. Notwithstanding, the results of 
notes of this nature can never amoimt to anything more than a list 
of disturbances and interruptions of the main migration movement 
at the particular place of observation, although the investigation of 
the causes of such disturbances is undeniably a study of the highest 
interest. Any other results of such records, even if these have been 
kept for a long series of years in a favourable locality and with 



ALTITUDE OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 59 

unremitting attention, do not supply us with more than a know- 
ledge of the period of time in autumn or spring during which such 
disturbances have talcen place. From this, however, we are not able 
to form more than an approximate conclusion as to the actual 
duration of the migration, since we can never determine whether 
the first observed individuals of a species are, in reality, the inaugu- 
rators of the migration at that particular time, or whether they 
may not have been preceded, weeks before, by a vanguard, travelling, 
according to the normal manner of the migration flight, at great 
and impenetrable heights above. 

On the other hand, it would appear to bo extremely unsafe to 
base, on observations of this nature, the line of arrival or the migra- 
tion-front of a species, or to draw conclusions from them, as to the 
velocity of the migration flight, as von iliddendorfl:" attempts to do. 
For in the first place it cannot be determined whether one is dealing 
with individuals whose spring migration is proceeding in a northerly 
direction, and not with such as are pursuing a westerly course ; and, 
further, one cannot establish with any degree of certainty, whether 
the flrst observed individuals of a species are actually the breeding 
birds belonging to the particular district of observation or not. 
By means of data of this nature, one can never state with the neces- 
sary degree of precision, as to when a species arrives at or passes 
over a particular degree of latitude or longitude. In fact, such data 
only yield information in regard to such disturbances in the normal 
migration as may have occurred within the limits of the area under 
observation. These disturbances, however, being, as has been already 
intimated, solely determined by meteorological contingencies, might, 
just as well, have occurred four hundred miles farther north or south, 
east or west, or perhaps not have taken place at all, in which latter 
case the migration would have proceeded on its normal course, and 
the migrants, ti'avelling far beyond the range of human vision, 
would have escaped the observer's notice altogether. We should 
then note down the migration as having been a very poor one, whilst 
all the time our feathered friends may be already building their 
nests in the far north and the far east, or preening their feathers 
in the warm sunshine of the south, and looking back with joyful 
feelings to ajournoy happilj- and safely accomplished, thus verifying 
the saying of our Heligoland shooters : ' Time gone b}', birds gone 
by ' — which means, that if, during the proper migration period of 
particular species, none of the birds have been seen in consequence 
of so-called contrary winds, it is vain to look for any to appear after 
the expiration of this time, however favourable the wind or the 
weather may be. 

Before closing this chapter, I would mention another interesting 



60 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

experiment in which the capacity of birds for hving in extremely 
elevated regions of the atmosphere was submitted to a direct test. 
This experiment was made by Glaisher and Coxwell, with some 
jaigeons which they toolc with them on their aerial voyage in 
England in September 1862. The first of these pigeons was put out 
after the balloon had reached a height of 16,000 feet ; it spread its 
wings and appeared to sink, while the balloon was rising with a 
velocitj' of 1000 feet per minute. It is probable that it may have 
soared with calmly outspread wings. The second was put out 
at a height of 21,000 feet, and wheeled about in powerful flight 
apparently in a downward direction. The third, put out at a height 
of about 25,000 feet, dropped like a stone. The balloon reached a 
height of from 36,000 to 37,000 feet. While it was descending, at 
the rate of 2000 feet per minute, the fourth jaigeon was put out at 
a height of 21,000 feet. Flying in circles, it followed the balloon 
as the latter rapidly descended, and perched on the top of it. Of 
the two remaining pigeons one was found dead at the end of the 
expedition ; the other, a carrier-pigeon, a quarter of an hour after, 
flew with fairly powerful motions of the wings to the place whence 
the balloon had started, whither, two days later, another of the 
pigeons which had been put out also returned. If, in these experi- 
ments, captured wild pigeons could have been employed instead of 
tame ones, the results would undoubtedly have been entirely 
different. In the first place, it is impossible that tame poultiy, not 
excluding even the best carrier-pigeons, should yield results in regard 
to flight which might furnish even an approximate standard of 
comparison in regard to what wild birds naight achieve in this direc- 
tion ; secondly, in experiments of this kind, many different circum- 
stances come into consideration which were probably not taken 
note of in the present instance. Thus, all birds obtained directly 
during the migration have not the least remnants of food in their 
stomachs : a few small grains of quartz are all that one finds. This is 
observed not merely in the case of such individuals as may liave 
digested, in the course of a long migration flight, the food taken 
shortly before their departure ; but also in the case of all such as 
are captured during the early evening hours of the autunm migra- 
tion, and therefore probably after a very short flight, as well as in the 
case of such as are obtained early in the morning during the spring 
migration, after a flight extending through the night. It ajopears, 
therefore, beyond all doubt, that birds do not start on their voyage 
until the process of digestion is completed, as, for instance, is the 
case with the small Warblers and Thrushes which in Heligoland 
start on their migration in Maj', an hour after sunset or later. 
A full stomach in itself produces in every creature a disinclination 



ALTITUDE OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 61 

for active exertion ; and for a bird starting for a long flight at a 
great elevation, it seems especially imjierative that its weight 
should be as small as possible. The balloon expedition referred to 
above did not start till noon, and the pigeons which were taken up 
would therefore undoubtedly have their crops well filled; they 
would accordingly be so little adapted for the experiment they had 
to undergo that it is surprising that, in the case of most of them, 
the results were so favourable. 

On the other hand, the various mountain ascents undertaken, 
since Humboldt's Chimborazo expedition, sufficiently demonstrated 
how little man — and unquestionably all other warm-blooded 
creatures — are capable of approaching even to the summits of the 
highest elevations of the earth's surface by the sole use of their 
corporeal powers. At heights of from 20,000 to 22,000 feet, the 
difficulties of breathing and the general exhaustion are such as to 
render even the least corporeal efforts impossible. Gay Lussac, on 
Chimborazo, was able to remain only a quarter of an hour at a 
height of about 20,000 feet. The brothers Schlagintweit succeeded, 
at Ibi Gamin, in reaching an elevation of 22,259 English feet, but 
became so completely exhausted as to be obliged to give up all 
further attempts to proceed higher. The men accompanying them 
were also utterly exhausted. 

During balloon voyages for scientific ends, with the body kept 
in a perfect state of rest, it has undoubtedly been possible to reach 
con.siderably greater elevations; but in all such cases the inves- 
tigators invariably did so at the risk of their lives. Thus Tissandier, 
Spinelli, and Siwel fell unconscious on attaining a height of 26,000 
feet ; the last two, in fact, never recovered consciousness. Glaisher 
reached a height of 29,000 feet before losing consciousness; his 
companion, Coxwell, on the other hand, though completely stiff 
with cold was yet able, while the balloon was continuing to 
asceiid, to grasp the cord of the valve with his teeth, and by 
opening it cause the balloon to descend, without having lost 
consciousness. 

The sum of our experiences accordingly proves that neither man 
nor any other warm-blooded creature is, while making corporeal 
exertions, capable of ascending to heights much above 22,000 feet ; 
and that, in the case of man, the ascent to elevations beyond 26,000 
feet is, even when the body is kept in a perfectly quiescent state, 
attended by the utmost risk of life ; whereas birds, on the other 
hand, can, of their own complete free will, elevate themselves to 
heights of from 3.5,000 to 40,000 feet, and can at such heights 
sustain great muscular efforts for any desirable length of time 
without being affected either by the great rarity of the air, or its 



62 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

poverty in oxygen, or the extremely low temperature which 
prevails in those regions. If they experienced eyeu the least 
discomfort during such flights — which frequently, as in the case 
of the Condor, appear to be undertaken for mere pastime — they 
would either abstain from them altogether, or, at any rate, 
not extend them over such ample periods of time as they 
actually do. 

Man is prompted by the thirst for knowledge to penetrate into 
regions for which his physical adaptation, however much he may 
be able to extend it, is no longer sufficient. Other beings, whose 
whole life and actions are directed to the maintenance of the 
individual and the species, are endowed with an organisation 
corresponding to the simple purposes of their being and the vital 
activities connected therewith, and each makes the most effective 
use of the qualities and capacities with which it has been thus 
provided. In the case of almost all, however, life ceases to be 
possible in and beyond the domain of eternal snow. The one 
exception to this rule we find, as already stated, in the case of birds. 
They too, however, would not be able to nourish and propagate 
themselves in regions bound in an unchanging state of icy frigidity ; 
and hence, in their case, an additional condition of existence — the 
migration flight — is brought into play. We have attempted in the 
preceding pages to show that this flight proceeds at heights 
raised far above our perceptive faculties, and it remains for 
us to inquire what is the special purpose of this exceptional 
phenomenon. 

In spite of isolated exceptions appearing to conti-adict our con- 
clusions, this main purpose is, in the rirst place, to enable migrants 
to elevate themselves to such strata of the air as, for the time being, 
ofl'er them the most favourable conditions for their migration, and 
hence make them independent of the numerous meteorological 
disturbances prevalent, especially during the autumn months, in 
strata of the atmosphere nearer to the earth's surface, and Avhich 
might have the eftect of temporarily suspending for a considerable 
period, or even entirely preventing, the migration of a species for 
the time being. In the second place, the incomprehensible rapidity 
of the migration flight, developed by so many species during their 
long and uninterrupted journeys, and which they are obliged to 
develop in crossing wide oceans, can probably onl}- be attained at 
elevations where the atmosphere, by reason of its diminished 
density, offers a considerably slighter resistance to their progress. 
Undoubtedly with this wonderful phenomenon there are connected 
many other physical questions, the settlement of which may 
probably, for a long time yet, defy the most earnest investigation. 



IV. VELOCITY OF THE MIGRATION 
FLIGHT 

The velocity of the migration flight forms another highh'- 
interesting division in the consideration of the migration pheno- 
menon generally. Just as the latter is in essence something quite 
sui generis in the life of the birds, so the separate phases under 
which it manifests itself bear no comparison Avhatever with the 
ordinary functions of their daily life. Thus, many birds are able to 
follow the different pursuits of their life only by daylight, and 
become the most helpless of creatures as soon as darlmess has set 
in. With the advent of the migratory period, however, their whole 
nature is changed to such a degree that after sunset they will soar 
to heights hitherto entirelj' imknown to them, and on pitch-dark 
nights are able to fly towards the goal of their wanderings with 
unfailing certainty. Similarly, the speed at which their ordinary 
daily locomotions in the air are performed has not even an 
approximate relation to the wonderful velocity of flight attained 
by them during their migrations. 

The subject of the speed of the migration flight of birds has for 
a long time engaged the attention of naturalists and observers, but 
no results consistent with the facts have as yet been established. A 
Falcon belonging to Henry ii., which escaped from Fontainebleau 
and was recaptured twenty-four hours later at Malta, is still cited as 
a wonderful instance of the rapidity of bird-flight. ' Nine [German] 
geographical miles in an hour!'^ people exclaim Avith astonishment 
(Dr. Weissmann, The Migration of Birds, p. 36). If more thought 
had been devoted to the matter, it would have been found that the 
speed of flight must in the above case have been at least double 
that of the first estimate ; for it is certain that the bird did not fly 
unintermittently during the whole of the twenty-four hours, but 
that it rested during the night, and in all probability managed to 
secure booty on the way, which, after a full meal, it would digest 

^ Equal to thirty-six English geographical miles. 



64 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

in peace before again taking up its journej'. As we shall show 
later on, the bird, in spite of these various stoppages, would j'et 
have had ample time to reach Malta within the period mentioned 
above. 

Yon Middendorft's observation led him to conclude that pigeons 
and other birds are able to j^erform four geographical miles in six 
minutes, and even in half that time. He adds, however, ' that birds 
fly at nothing like this speed during their migration journeys. 
The velocity with which they passed from one place to another 
probably did not fall much below this calculation ; but they rested, 
where they found it convenient to do so, and consequently in the 
course of a day's journey did probalily not advance more than from 
about sixteen to forty-eight geographical miles.' This result, arrived 
at by so profound and erudite an enquirer as von Middendorif, is the 
more astonishing inasmuch as the observations on which it is 
supported were made at the time of the spring migration, during 
which, so far as my experience goes, birds are considerably less 
inclined to interrupt their journey than during the autumn move- 
ment. 

The next example of rapidity of flight, which far exceeds von 
Middendortf's statement, is furnished bj- a Carrier-Pigeon, which on 
the occasion of a flying comjJetition from Ghent to Rouen, attained 
to a speed of one hundred geographical miles in an hour (Yarrell, 
Brit. Birds, 1845, ii. p. 296). The instance in question is cited in 
the account of the Rock Dove — of which species the Carrier-Pigeon 
is a development — and it cannot be doubted that the flight-capacity 
of the latter form, which had lived in a domesticated state for many 
generations, must have fallen far short of that of its primitive wild 
ancestor. 

My own studies on this subject have yielded results which, in 
the most surprising manner, surpass all that has been said above. 
Even in the case of so apparently sluggish a flyer as the Hooded Crow, 
which it would be ridiculous to enter in a match against a Carrier- 
Pigeon, a speed of migi-ation flight of no less than one hundred and 
eight geographical miles per hour has been established. Nor was 
this an exceptional performance, as was most probably that of the 
Carrier-Pigeon jareviously referred to, but the ordinary normal rate 
of flight persisted in by millions — nay, billions, of these birds during 
their annual autumn migrations. Such a jJerformance on the part 
of the Hooded Crow, however, justifies us in assuming that birds 
with closer plumage, and provided with more eiScient instruments 
of flight, such as the noble Falcons, Swallows, Pigeons, the larger 
species of Plovers and Sandpipers, ought certainly to be capable of 
incomparably greater achievements in this direction. This they 



VELOCITY OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 65 

undoubtedly are, as is proved by an actual performance of this 
nature, which surpasses all that has been stated hitherto. Strange 
to say, the feat in question was not performed by a member of any 
of the species enumerated above as excellent flyers, but by a little 
bird which one Avould certainly not have regarded as endowed with 
more than moderate powers of flight — to wit, the Northern Blue- 
throat. Nevei'theless, this little bird proved to be capable of flying, 
during its migrations, at the rate of one hundred and eighty 
geographical miles per hour. 

An extraordinary velocity of this kind is specially developed 
during the spring migi-ation. The time occupied in the latter 
movement must of necessity be as short as possible, for many 
birds, more especially species from high northern latitudes, have 
but a very short span of time allotted to them for the building of 
their nests, and the breeding and rearing of their young. Accord- 
ingly the majority under normal conditions, and in the absence 
of meteorological influences of a disturbing nature, accomplish 
their migi-ation in one uninterrupted nocturnal flight. It has 
thus been shown that species, like the Northern Bluethroat 
already referred to, which winter in the Nile districts and in 
Central Africa, from about 10° to 27° N. latitude, extend their 
flight thence in the course of one single spring night, up to 54° N. 
latitude, and, doubtless, even considerably farther — thus accom- 
plishing a distance of at least 1600 geographical miles within the 
space of nine hours. 

The Northern Bluethroat leaves its winter quarters for its 
northern breeding home at ihe end of April or beginning of May, 
and Heligoland is the first point at which, in the course of this 
journey, it is met with unfailingly every year in very large numbers 
under favourable conditions of weather. In aU intermediate 
latitudes — Greece, Italy, South German}', and even in the neigh- 
bouring parts of North Germany — it is at this time so rare an 
occurrence that its appearance in any of these districts may be 
regarded as an extremely exceptional accident, or, in the words of 
Naumann, vol. xiii., as ' very isolated and rare.' 

In Heligoland, on the other hand, it is not at all unusual to 
obtain from twenty to fifty of these birds on one day, — in fact, 
I remember having on one occasion some sixty speciall3--selected 
beautiful males brought me one May morning, while the brothers 
Aeuckens obtained an almost equal number. All such birds are 
caught in the gardens of the Highland (Oberland), while equally 
large quantities frequent the rubble and the natural grottos at the 
base of the cliff, and the bushes of the Dune island. 

Like most birds, especiallj' insectivorous species, the Northern 

E 



CG THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Bluethroat travels during the night, settmg out at dusk and end- 
ing its journey at daybreak, or immediately after sunrise. Hence 
it accomplishes a flight of more than IGOO geographical miles from 
Egypt to Heligoland in the course of a spring night of scarcely nine 
hours, giving the ahnost miraculous velocity of one hundred and 
eighty geographical miles per hour. The species does not winter 
further west than Central Africa, nor do its breeding quarters 
extend farther to the westward than Norway ; there can therefore 
be no doubt as to the identity of the examples found in Heligoland 
with those from Central Africa. 

The fact that this bird is never seen among those which are 
captured here at night at the lighthouse, but invariably arrives only 
about dawn, furnishes a further proof that it does not alight for 
rest during the spring migration, nor reach this island from any 
stations nearer than its winter cpiarters in Africa. 

Judging from its general habits, there is no reason for consider- 
ing this Bluethroat as possessed of more than moderate capacities 
for flight. Its mode of life throughout the whole year, with the 
exception of the one particular migration night, is such that, 
according to the theories of Natural Selection and Heredity, its 
powers of flight should, through disuse, have long since retrograded 
to such an extent as to have rendered it quite unequal to perform 
feats like that mentioned above. Quite on the contrary, however, 
its powers of flight must have acquired an extraordinary develop- 
ment for the special purpose of migration ; for, under ordinar}' 
conditions, the bird lives on the ground, hopping about all day 
with wide leaps, and only using its organs of flight under stress of 
necessity. If, therefore, a bird like this, among the varied activities 
of whose life flying is almost an exception, is nevertheless capable 
of accomplishing such wondrous feats on one single occasion in the 
course of a whole year, what extraordinary achievements in this 
direction may we not expect from such expert and energetic flyers 
as the Hobby, the Swallow, and the like. Future investigation will, 
without doubt, bring to light astonishing results in this fleld of 
inquiry. 

From the above considerations it appears that birds not only 
are possessed of an astonishing and probably quite unsuspected 
power of flight, but, further, that their migration flights are accom- 
plished at a rate of speed equally astounding and unconjectured. 
The wide divergency between the results of my observations and 
those arrived at by Dr. von Middendorff' most probably has its 
explanation in the considerable difl'erence of latitude in which 
our observations were respectively carried on. In Heligoland the 
migratory hosts are seen, at both migration-periods of the year alike, 



VELOCITY OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 67 

in undiminished multitudes and while still subject to the full force 
of the n^igratory impulse, whereas in the high northern latitudes 
which it has been Dr. von Jliddendorff's good fortune to investi- 
gate, the spring migration of many species either terminates, or, at 
any rate, is approaching its close. It no doubt often happens that 
birds relax their normal migration speed and advance more slowly 
in these high northern latitudes, owing to their breeding quarters 
close at hand not yet being in the enjoyment of a summer tem- 
perature; but too many facts of a conflicting nature prevent us 
from accepting the statement of the last observer that the average 
distance accomplished by migrants per day is thirt3'-two geograph- 
ical miles. If such were the case, species wintering, for instance, in 
Middle Egypt and breeding within the Arctic Circle, would require 
nearly three months for their migration journey, which, in itself, is 
out of the question, and, moreover, contradicted by the already 
instanced case of the Bluethroat. If this bird travelled at the slow 
rate above indicated, one ought to meet with it during its spring 
migration in Italy and the whole of Germany as numerously as in 
Heligoland ; whereas, as already stated, it has been met with only 
as an extremely rare and excejDtional occurrence in all the countries 
situated between this island and its winter quarters. 

Almost all the instances of migration velocity hitherto adduced 
in evidence relate to the spring migration which birds are known 
to perform with considei-able haste. The desire to reach the 
nesting homes is, however, by no means the only stimulus pro- 
vocative of these extraordinaiy feats of flight; for the journey to 
the winter quarters, in which less haste is manifested, likewise 
affords a suflicient number of proofs, both as to the velocity of 
bird-flight generallj', as well as to the actual daily speed at which 
their migrations are fierformed. In this connection we may con- 
sider somewhat more in detail the already-mentioned case of the 
Hooded Crow. This bird, which, without question, must he classed 
among the less expert flyers, travels in autumn in innumerable 
droves aci'oss Heligoland and past both sides of the island. The 
flrst flocks arrive at about eight in the morning, and are succeeded 
in undiminished numbers by flock upon flock until two o'clock in 
the afternoon, all travelling, without interrupting their flight, in a 
westerly direction. 

According to the reports of my esteemed friend, John Cordeaux 
— with whose observations, conducted on the opposite east coast of 
England, I am in the habit of regularly comparing my own — the 
first flights arrive at that coast about eleven in the morning, and 
the last at about five in the afternoon, the latter being followed 
sometimes by solitary stragglers. It has been repeatedly shoAvn. 



68 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

and cannot any longer be subject to the least doubt, that the flights 
of these birds idiich, on this island, appear far off on the eastern, 
and disappear on the western horizon, are the same as those which 
arrive on the English coast from an eastern direction. Accordingly 
these sluggish flyers pass over the three hundred and twenty miles 
of German Ocean in three hours, which gives a velocity of nearly 
one hundred and eight geographical miles per hour. This instance 
of migration speed is the more surprising inasmuch as it is dis- 
played in the case of a bird which one might almost call clumsy, 
and which certainly gives no evidence of corporeal dexterity. 

A few other instances of migration velocity, considerably above 
the average rate of thirty-two geographical miles per day, may here 
be cited. The young autunm birds of the Richard's Pipit, in 
favourable weather, arrive in Heligoland as early as the beginning 
of September — that is, about two months after they have left the 
shell — half of which time at least thej' must have used in acquiring 
the powers of flight. The distance from Dauria to Heligoland 
amounts to about four thousand geographical miles; therefore, if this 
Pipit did not accomplish more than thirty-two miles a day, mstead 
of arriving here during the first days of September, it would not 
make its appearance until about the end of December — that is, 
provided that during the whole journey the bird has encountered 
favourable weather, a contingency which, at that time of the year, 
may be regarded as virtually im]:)ossible. If, on the other hand, 
the migrants, through stress of weather, lost only a third portion of 
the days, or, rather, nights — a by no means excessive estimate — the 
time necessary for their journey, according to the above scale, 
would be so much j^rotracted that all the birds would inevitably 
succumb to the inclemency of the weather. Supposing, however, 
they managed to survive this, and that they proceeded at the same 
rate to winter quarters in, say, the south of France or Spain, they 
would in this case, on their arrival there, have at once to start again 
for their breeding homes if they wished to reach their nesting 
stations at the requisite time. All this has refei'enco only to the 
young birds of the year ; old breeding birds do not arrive here 
until the middle of October and up to the middle of November. 

The most striking and incontestable pi'oof, however, of a migra- 
tion carried out to its end at an extremely rapid rate of flight is 
furnished by an American bird, the Virginian Plover (C/iiiradrius 
virginicuys). The speed at which this bird travels during its 
autumn migration probably even exceeds that of the Bluethroat on 
its spring migration. Flocks consisting of thousands of these birds 
have been met with at a distance of four hundred geographical 
miles and more east of Bermuda, flying in a southerly direction on 



VELOCITY OF THE MIGRATION FLIGHT 69 

the way from their breeding places in Labrador to Northern Brazil. 
The distance between the coasts of the two countries amounts to 
three thousand two hundred geographical miles, and since there is 
along this whole stretch of route not a single iDoint on which the 
travellers could alight for rest, they are obliged to perform the 
whole length of this enormous journey in one uninterrupted flight. 

\Ye may probably assiuue fifteen hours as the longest spell 
durina: which a bird is able to remain on the wing without taking 
sustenance of anj- kind. On this assumption, the velocity of flight 
of the above-named birds would amount to two hundred and twelve 
geographical miles per hour. 

Though an achievement like this is in the highest degree 
astonishing, there is no necessity for assuming it to be either 
exceptional or isolated. On the other hand, Ave are justified in 
concluding that good flyers, such as this Plover specially happens 
to be, may be able to accomplish even greater feats during their 
spring migrations, when we reflect that a small and feeble bird like 
the Bluethroat attains to so high a speed as one hundred and 
eighty geographical miles per hour during the latter period of 
migration. In the case of this bird, too, there is hardly a doubt 
but that the velocity of its migration flight may exceed even this 
already remarkable figure ; for, in discussing its flight, we only took 
into account the rather moderate distance from North Africa to 
Heligoland as representing the whole distance covered in its 
migration. Now on the one hand, its winter quarters are known to 
extend to 12° and 10° north latitude : and on the other, those of the 
birds which for the moment alight on Heligoland can only form an 
mconsiderable fraction of the complete migratory stream setting 
from Africa to the Scandinavian peninsula, while the predominant 
majority of individuals continue their journey to at least as far 
as Central Norwaj^ and therefore accomplish, during the same 
May night, a distance of from two thousand to two thousand four 
hundred geographical miles. This would, of course, give as result 
a velocity of four miles a minute. To an attentive observer in 
Heligoland, however, such a result would in no way appear beyond 
the bounds of possibility. He need, in fact, only consider the case 
of the numerous individuals of such species as Plovers, Curlews, 
Godwits, which, flying across the island at a rushing speed during 
bright warm afternoons in earty summer, are observed to reach 
the oyster-bed, 22,000 feet to the east, within the space of a single 
minute. 

The case of the American Plover just discussed further shows 
how little in need of rest birds are during their migration flight. 
Large sections of the migratory streams of these birds which are 



70 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

directed towards South America fly across Bermuda in immense 
quantities. As long as fair weather prevails, not one of these 
birds rests upon its migration journey ; only a storm will induce 
them to alight (J. M. Jones, Naturalist in Bermuda). This, too, 
in spite of the fact that they have alreadj' travelled over a distance 
of one thousand two hundred geographical miles from Labrador to 
Bermuda, and have still to cover more than eight hundred miles 
before they reach the northernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles ; 
nor do they alight during this latter stage of the journey except 
when subjected to the stress of storms (anct. A. Newton ; communi- 
cated by letter). As has been already stated on several occasions, 
the autumn migration differs from the spring movement in several 
respects, but esjieciallj' in the velocity of the migratory flight. For 
the former movement is not, like the latter, determined by the 
object of reaching a definite goal in a rigidly prescribed space 
of time, but is merely concerned with enabling the birds, sooner or 
later, to reach winter quarters j^ossessed of a sufficiently mild 
temperature. Accordingly, it is only in its initial stages that there 
is exhibited in the latter movement a velocity of flight similar to 
that which characterises the spring migration ; for as soon as the 
various species have reached latitudes far enough south in their 
case to enable them to take a longer or shorter spell of rest, the 
birds cease to hasten forward at the normal migratory speed, but 
advance slowly, and at low elevations, by short daily stages, or 
sometimes for a time come to a complete standstill, until frost 
comjjels them once more to resume their journej- at the normal 
speed of migration. In the case of a large number of species such 
a relaxation of migratory speed, or temporary interruption of the 
journey, takes place in latitudes no farther south than central or 
even northern Germany. In discussing the autumn migration of 
the Cranes, Naumann (vol. ix. p. 3.54) brings forward a very apt 
illustration of what has been said in the foregoing. 

It has been supposed that birds are in the habit of breaking 
their migratory joiu-ney without any very powerful disturbing cause 
both in autumn and spring — at the former season on reaching 
latitudes not so far south as those of their normal winter quarters, 
and in spring before they have arrived at their breeding stations. 
With this assumption, however, my own experiences on this 
island, accumulated for many years, are at variance. Heligoland 
occupies a most happy position intermediate both between the far 
north and the central parts of Europe, as well as between the 
eastern and western portions of the latter continent. It follows, 
therefore, that the predominant majority of the myriads of migrants 
when observed here are still travelling at the full si^eed of their 



VELOCITY OF THE MIGRATIOX FLIGHT 71 

migratory flight, but not one of these regular migrants has ever 
been known to tarry on the island for longer than the remainder of 
the day on which, or at the dawn of which, it first made its 
appearance. After a night's incessant flight, a greater or smaller 
portion of the succeeding day is all the birds need for satisfying 
their hunger or recovering from such fatigue as may have resulted 
from the exertions of their journey. I myself have never noticed 
cases of fatigue or actual exhaustion — such as people tell about 
birds of the Snipe family on this island — in regard to any birds 
which have landed here during their migration either by day or 
night, with the possible exception of three solitary but interesting 
instances in which I observed small land-birds resting on the sea 
half a mile from the island. 

In the case of many Thrushes, Larks, Buntings, Finches, Sand- 
pipers, and other northern species, the interruption of the autumn 
migi-ation above referred to — and with part of them its actual 
termination — occurs, when the birds have not got further than 
central or even northern Germany. Very few species, however, make 
a stay of this kind on this rugged island rock. The few that do so 
are almost invariably Rock Pipits, Snow Buntings, Sanderlings, 
Purple Sandpipers, and Dunlins, and, in rarer instances, a few Larks, 
Coal Titmice, or Chaffinches. Fieldfares, and especially Blackbirds, 
may also be seen frequently for weeks together roving about here in 
the winter ; these, however, ai-e not birds which have brought their 
migration to a close, but individuals which have been driven out 
of the Scandinavian peninsula by frost and snow. Of these the 
old male Blackbirds immediately depart again for the north on the 
advent of milder weather. Still it can scarcely be said of any one 
of these species that they had intended to pass the winter here. 
The Rock Pipit and the Purple Sandpiper are perhaps the only 
ones of which this may be asserted, since they are represented 
Avithout any break throughout the whole of the cold season. 
In regard to the latter species, however, it cannot be determined 
whether the birds that remain are always the same individuals 
or whether some of them do not travel farther and are replaced by 
others. It is, however, nearly certain that the Rock Pipit does 
actually remain throughout the winter. Moreover, one bird, the 
tiny, cheerful, little Wren, faithfully abides with us throughout the 
stern season, one or two of these winsome creatures being always 
met with throughout the winter months even during temporary 
spells of very severe weather. At these times the caves and grottos 
at the foot of the cliff oft'er it a shelter, and probably also food in 
abundance, for the bird preserves the same cheerful demeanour 
alike in a dense snowstorm as in the hours of brightest sunshine. 



72 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

During the spring migration, in the absence of some specially 
exceptional cause, none of the countless wanderers prolong their 
stay here beyond the few hours previously mentioned ; all of them 
speed onwards to their breeding homes in restless haste. Some, 
like the various Yellow Wagtails, do not even tarry till the close 
of the day on the dawn of which they had arrived, but resume 
their journey at about the middle of the forenoon. From the 
phenomena of migration as displayed on this island, we can, how- 
ever, form no estimate as to how long or how far northward 
the wanderers continue their restless voj^age ; what we know 
for certain is that they push unceasingly forward as long as they 
are not hindered by meteorological influences, and that none would, 
iniless compelled, break their journey for any length of time before 
reaching their nesting quarters. On the other hand, Seebohm's 
interesting observations at the mouth of the Petchora and Jenesei 
rivers go to show that all species breeding in verj' high northern 
latitudes may frequently be detamed in the course of their spring 
migration shortly before its termination. On the disappearance of 
winter, and the break-up of the immense icefields formed upon these 
rivers, countless swarms of both land and water birds are seen to 
fill the air in the most motley confusion. Just as after the com- 
jsletion of the first great stage in the autumn migration man}' of 
the wanderers slacken their speed until cold and frost once more 
impel them onward, so in this case the persistence of wintry con- 
ditions has the opposite effect by causing the birds to relax the 
speed of their advance, or by bringing them to a standstill for a brief 
time, shortly before reaching their breeding homes. As long, 
however, as neither the one nor other of these influences comes 
into play, the Hooded Crow, the Bluethroat, and the Virginian 
Plover pursue their migration at the velocities which have been 
established in their cases respectively. In the case of the last of 
these birds this velocity is indeed so enormous that we are obliged 
to assume the assistance of other factors besides the mechanical 
instruments of motion with which the bird is equipped. 

In treating of the height of the migration flight, we have con- 
sidered in detail that birds, as distinct from other warm-blooded 
creatures, arc provided with a respiratory mechanism enabling 
them to remain for any desirable length of time in regions of the 
atmosphere so rare in density and poor in oxygen as must neces- 
sarily i-esult from elevations extending to 40,000 feet ; and we have 
further seen that they are, in addition, provided with a very 
extensive system of air-sacs which they are able to fill or empty 
at pleasure. These peculiarities, either alone or in co-operation, 
appear of no ostensible use to the bird during its ordinary daily 



VELOCITY OF THE MIC4EATI0N FLIGHT 



73 



activities, aud yet cannot have been created to no purpose what- 
ever. Their sole jmrpose, therefore, is evidently to enable it to 
perform those wonderful migrations — wonderful both as regards the 
height at which they proceed, and the velocity with which they are 
carried out. If birds were restricted during their autumn and 
spring migrations to the same low strata of the atmosphere in 
which they move during the rest of the year, such of them as 
have to perform their migratory journeys early in the spring or late 
in the autunm would in many cases be obliged, in consequence of 
stress of weather, to let the proper period of their migration pass 
without having been able even to make a start on their journeys. To 
withdraw themselves from the disturbing influences which are apt 
to prevail in these changeful lower strata, birds mount up into the 
more elevated layers of the atmosj^here, in which more uniform 
conditions prevail, and which are less subject to powerful meteoro- 
logical disturbances. In this way, however, they reach elevations 
at which the resistance of the air is so insignificant as to render 
possible the astonishing velocity of flight developed during the 
migration, while this velocity at the same time counteracts any 
tendency towards sinking, a slight elevation of the anterior margin . 
of the horizontal wing-surface being amply sufficient to eftect this 
object. 

By considerations such as these we not only approach somewhat 
nearer to an explanation of the velocity of the migrator}' flight 
such as it has been proved to be, but we may also assume as an 
established fact, that these migratory flights are possible, solely and 
exclusively, under such conditions as prevail in paths at the im- 
mense elevations discussed in the previous chapter. 




AUTHORS GARDEN. 



V. METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 
WHICH INFLUENCE MIGRATION 

Though the meteorolog-ical influences Avhich affect the migrations 
of birds are at the present time still very imperfect!}- understood, it 
will not be out of place here once more to collect and examine in 
detail the various references made thereto in previous chapters, 
even if such a recapitulation may only serve to attract a more 
general attention to this important subject. ^ 

We have already laid stress on the fact that such portions of 
the migration phenomenon as become apparent during its perio- 
dical recurrences, are brought within the range of our observing 
faculties almost exclusively by meteorological conditions which are 
exercising a disturbing influence upon the normal progress of the 
migratory movement. When this latter proceeds on its regidar 
normal course, it lies far beyond the limits of either our visual or 
auditory capacities, and it is only by the development of meteoro- 
logical disturbances in those inexplorable regions that it is brought 
within the range of our perceptive faculties. 

The force and direction of the wiiid are however by no means the 
only factors which exercise a determining influence on migration. 
The various forms and phases in which this movement manifests 
itself are afl'ected in a determinate manner by another meteoro- 
logical condition, viz. : The greater or less amount of moisture 
present in the atmosphere, and the particular form which this 
moisture assumes ; whether it is distributed throughout the air as 
a vapour of uniform density, or condensed into fog or mist, or takes 
the shape of clouds either loose and feathery of the cirrus form, 
or dense and rounded of the woolpack type ; or again, in a clear, 
cold air, ajjpcars as dew or hoar-frost, or under other conditions, in 
the form of a thundercloud heavily charged with electricity. 

In general proof of this may be cited the simple fact that 
whereas birds appear in great number Avhen the wind is in a 
particular direction, they are scai'cely seen at all when it is in some 
other quarter. The latter, for instance, is the case during south- 



]\rETEOEOLOGICAL CONDITIONS 75 

westcrl}' winds, which are mostlj' accompanied by rain, and also 
during fogs, no matter in what direction the wind may be at the 
time. 

The extent to which these conditions of weather prevail at the 
time of a jsarticular period of migration positivel}' determines the 
extent to which the birds appear ; and should they prevail 
throughout the whole of the autumn or spring months, we may 
not I'eckon upon seeing either Snipe, Thrushes, or any other 
common or uncommon species of birds on the island. Whether, 
however, the migrations come within the sphere of our observations 
or not, there is no doubt that they proceed regularly under all con- 
ditions, during a period of time peculiar to each particular species. 
This is proved by the fact that if this particular migration time of 
a species has once expired, not a single one of its members will 
thereafter be seen, even though the most favourable weather for 
their appearance may set in immediate!}". 

It is true that retardations in the migration of one species or 
another do sometimes seem to occur. I say ' seem to' intentionally, 
for the assumption of their being retardations is based on a ■wrong 
interpretation of the phenomena. Thus, for instance, if in spring 
the tirst half of the migration time of a species happens to be 
already past, without any member of the species having as yet been 
observed, and if thereupon the weather assumes a character favour- 
able to the occurrence of this species, the latter will at once be 
found to make its appearance. From a mere superficial observa- 
tion of a retarded appearance of this kind, one might be very easily 
led to suspect that the migration of the species in question was 
only just then commencing, and had been delayed imtil then by 
unfavourable conditions of weather. Such a conclusion would 
however be incorrect, for in a case like this the separate individuals 
of the species in question do not consist of fine old males, as ought 
to be the case if one were really dealmg with the commencement of 
the spring migration of the species, but instead thereof such male 
birds as are seen are scattered, j'ounger individuals, while the 
majority of the birds are females. This however onl}- shows that 
the old males, who form the advance guard of the spring migi-ation, 
have long since arrived undisturbed, and therefore unseen, at their 
breeding stations, and that these apparently later arrivals, instead 
of being, as erroneously supposed, the vanguard of the migratory 
host, are in reality the second division of the main body of 
migrants of that particular species. 

What has been said above is amply proved almost every year 
by one or the other of such species as display more or less marked 
difference in the coloiu* of the plumage according to age and sex, 



76 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

and in no case more pointedly tliat that of the Northern Bhie- 
throat, a bird which has ah'eady been brought into evidence on 
several other occasions. 

In the chapter on the height of the niigratorj' flight, we have — 
in briefly mentioning the night capture of Larks on this island 
— pointed out how largely the greater or less elevation, at which 
the migratory movement proceeds, is dependent on apparently 
slight changes in the condition of the atmosphere at the time being. 
Therefore, although under normal conditions the migrations of 
most species proceed at a height of at least 20,000 feet, they ought 
not, if they ha^jpen to become impossible at this elevation, at once 
to be regarded as interrupted, inasmuch as the birds, if compelled 
to abandon the highest limits of their migration-path, descend only 
so far until they reach a stratum of air in which they fall in with a 
current in the desirable du'ection and of the requisite strength, and 
it is only when they fail to meet with such a current that they 
finally alight on the earth. 

Now this little island, where the whole vault of heaven con- 
stantly lies oj^en to the view^ furnishes very striking proofs of the 
variety of air currents prevailing simidtaneously in different gradu- 
ally ascending strata of the atmosphere. Thus Ave And that loose 
mist-like cloud-formations at a height of scarcely a thousand feet 
frequently deviate considerably in their course from the direction 
of the wind, which sweeps along the surface of the water, while it is 
by no means rare to find two further cloud-strata passing in dissimilar 
directions, interposed between the lower patches of vapour just 
refeiTcd to, and the cirrus streaks at immeasurable heights above 
them, so that very frequently the highest clouds move in a com- 
pletely opposite direction to the air currents which sweep along 
the earth's surface. 

Birds naturally choose for their migrations those strata of the 
atmosphere which otfer the most favourable conditions to their 
progress. It is however a fact of peculiar interest, that during 
both migration-periods of the year, all species, without exception, 
approach in largest numbers to the earth's surface when very light 
south-easterly winds, accompanied by clear warm weather, happen 
to prevail for any length of time in the lower regions of the atmo- 
sphere. If autumn brings a long spell of weather of this kind, we 
may not only reckon on the appearance of large niunbers of all our 
common visitors during >September and October, but may also look 
forward with certainty to the frequent occurrence of species very 
rare in Eiu'ope, and originating from the far East, such as Yellow- 
browed Warbler (Sylvia superciliosa), Siberian Chiflfchati' (»S'. 
tristis), and other Siberian "Warblers, Richard's Pipit, Rustic 



METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 77 

Bunting, Little Bunting, Shore-Lark in thousands, and many 
others, while Tengraalm's Owl, Bullfinches (Pyrrhula major). Red- 
poles (FringiUa. linaria and F. exUipes) may, under these condi- 
tions, be expected from the middle of October onwards throughout 
November. It should further be mentioned that the Connnon 
Jay, an extremely rare bird in Heligoland, has also occurred here 
in large flocks after long-continued south-east winds, but only 
when these had increased to considerable violence and, at the same 
time, backed to a more decidedly easterly direction. It seems indeed 
surprising that one and the same direction of the wind should 
— other atmospherical conditions being the same — influence the 
autunm migration of species from the extreme east of Asia, in the 
same manner as that of species from the high northern latitudes of 
Scandinavia; but it is still more astonishing to find that on their 
return journey, in spring too, the birds, whether they arrive firom 
the far South or from the distant West, are brought within the 
sphere of our observation under the same atmospheric conditions ; 
even the rarer unusual occurrences from far distant south-eastern 
regions, such as Asia Minor, Arabia, and the area of the Caspian, 
form no exception to this rule, although their route of migration is 
almost directly opposite to that of the arrivals from the west. 

From all these facts it appears that the meteorological condi- 
tions discussed above are those best adapted to the migrations of 
birds, and that the latter betake themselves to strata of the 
atmosphere in which such conditions prevail. 

Seeing that migrations in bulk very rarely take place at low 
elevations, or — what amounts to the same thing — that in the vast 
majority of cases these movements proceed at elevations far 
removed beyond the range of our observation, we are justified in 
concluding that it is in these elevated regions of the atmosphere 
especially that birds meet with the meteorological conditions 
requisite to the proper performance of their migratory movements, 
i.e. a state of great calm and the presence of only a very slight 
amount of moisture. The correctness of this conclusion is sup- 
ported by the phenomenon of cirrus clouds. In the most elevated 
of these it is extremely difticult to observe any change either of 
jDosition or form ; nor is this state of comparative immobility a 
merely apparent one, due to the enormous distance of these light 
masses of vapour, for supposing them to be at an elevation of 
eight geographical miles, the motion of a steamer proceeding at 
the rate of about twelve geographical mUes per hour will, at the 
same distance, appear very considerable as compared with the 
almost imperceptible movement of these cloud streaks. 

Considering the haste and precision with which all the 



78 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

phenomena of migration proceed, wo can hardly admit that birds 
seek such strata of the air as are favourable to their migration purely 
at haphazard ; we ought rather to assume that they are possessed of 
an inherent presentiment or sensitiveness to distant, but approach- 
ing, phases of weather. We are supported in this view by the fact 
that many birds in confinement manifest much unrest, by fluttering 
and by tlie frequent utterance of their call-notes, on days which 
precede nights of strong migrations. This was the case with a Snow 
Bunting which I had kept for many years, and also with some Larks 
kept at the lighthouse here, the latter regularly predicting by their 
restlessness during the day the great catch that was to take place 
on the coming night. 

The sensitiveness of birds to the first faint indications of an 
atmospheric change must at least be equal to that of a good baro- 
meter; at the same time, however, we must not forget that in 
the elevated regions in which their migrations proceed, birds are 
brought under the influence of the slightest signs of an approaching 
change of weather long before anythmg of the impending change 
is perceived on the earth's surface, where the earliest indications of 
it are probably not felt until about twenty-four hours later. 

It can hardly be doubted that all changes of weather have their 
origin in the higher strata of the atmosphere. Observations have 
shown in an}' case that the first indications of a change of wind 
begin to make themselves felt in the highest cirrus streaks, and 
that the lower layers of vapour are brought under their influence 
graduallj' in a downward vertical succession. Thus, frequently 
during light easterly and south-easterly winds and tine clear weather, 
the highest and thinnest cirrus strata may be observed for days 
moving almost imperceptibly from west to east ; or very faint striae 
of vapour are seen rising on the western horizon, and, as the wind 
slightly freshens, advancing during the next twenty-four hours to 
about the zenith. In the course of another equal period of time they 
slowl}' overspread the eastern portion of the sky likewise, and finally, 
as the east wind rises to its utmost intensity, increase to one dense, 
elevated vault of vapour uniformly covering the whole expanse of 
the firmament. Below this canopy of mist, cloud-formations, which 
already begin to assume more or less definite shapes, are next seen 
to pass across the sky, while simultaneously with their appearance 
a downfall of rain takes place, the west wind at the same time 
rapidly gaining the ascendency near the surface of the ground. 
Such, at least, has been my experience here after many years of 
careful observations. 

At the beginning of the series of meteorological changes just 
described, while light south-east winds prevail, migrants appear in 



METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 79 

large numbers at low elevations. By degrees the migration passes 
into higher altitudes, its speed being at the same time strikingly 
accelerated. The number of birds which alight during the morning 
hours is at that time considerably diminished, and the few birds 
that do so, soon start afresh on their journey, so that by the time 
that the wind has completely changed to the west and rain has 
begun to fall, not another bird is to be seen. Migration phenomena 
of this kind have been frequently observed ; among other instances, 
in October 1882. From the first week of that month up to the 
22nd the prevailing winds were south-east ; these on frequent 
occasions rose to a great strength, being in such cases accompanied 
by low, loose, swiftly-flying clouds. During all this time a powerful 
mass-migration, or so-called ' rush,' was in progi-ess, and the call- 
notes of numerous migi'ants were heard during the night, and the 
birds themselves were seen daily, particularly during the early 
hours of the morning and forenoon, speeding across the island at 
a great height ; but only very few of them were noticed to alight. 

During this time the cloud-formations at intermediate heights 
in the atmosphere were moving from south-south-east and south : 
but at a very great altitude the air unfortunately was clear, though 
imdoubtedly there too the air-currents were moving in at least a 
south-westerly direction : such, at any rate, was still the case on the 
evening of the 21st. Early on the 22nd a few loose isolated clouds, 
not of the cirrus type, were akeady moving rapidly at a great height 
from west-south-west, while the loose vaporous clouds below them 
were still being driven along before a very strong south-east wind. 
At the same time the Marme Observatory registered, as a storm 
warning, a deep depression west of the Hebrides. During the fore- 
noon of that day a very powerful and extremely rapid migration was 
still in progress, the birds, so to speak, dashing across the island 
without one of them alighting thereon. At noon the migration 
completely ceased. Amid a powerful downpour of rain the wind, 
which had increased considerably in force, veered round to the 
west, and at michiight blew with great violence from the south-west 
and ^^■est, accompanied during the night by hea^^^ sheet-lightning. 
On the 23rd stormy winds, accompanied by heavy rain-clouds, 
continued blowing from the west, and there was no longer a bird 
to be seen. 

The birds, which travelled past and across the island in such 
vast masses and in such unusual haste during the last part of this 
period, had, as might be gathered from the movement of the 
elevated cloud-strata, been driven out of their normal migration 
tracks by contrary west winds. In consequence of these winds 
reaching the surface of the ground, the migration, which had been 



80 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

proceeding in proximity to tlie latter, was completely extinguished : 
and though we cannot actually jirove that it was continued in the 
higher strata of the air, which at that time might perhaps have 
returned to a state of calm, it is very likel}' that such really was 
the case, for on the next day — the 2'ith — when the west wind had 
considerably declined in force, and was beginning to give way to a 
strong south-south-east wind, large quantities of all kinds of birds 
at once reappeared. From the tremendous haste, however, in 
which these were travelling, or rather, as I noted it in my diary, 
' dashing headlong across,' one was not as yet led to ho]ie for a 
favourable change of weather. Xor was this surmise incorrect, for 
during the night the wind again changed to south-west, developing 
after midnight into a storm, which at about 3 a.m. on the 25th 
attained to a violence such as is but seldom experienced on this 
island. The unusual haste displayed by the migrants on the pre- 
vious day was evidently the result of a presentiment of this storm, 
just as was the case one or several daj-s before the bad weather on 
the night of the 22nd. Whether this presentiment was already de- 
veloped even before the day preceding the event, I will not venture 
to decide here. It is, however, a fact that from so far back as the 
middle of the month all the migrants had displayed an unusual 
and extraordinary degree of haste in their movements. The Hooded 
Crows, for instance — whose migrations proceed only in the daytime, 
and which on their autumn passage never pass Heligoland later than 
about two o'clock in the afternoon, it being their object to reach 
the English coast before nightfall, certainly not later than 5 p.m. — 
on this particular occasion were seen to pass so late in the after- 
noon that they could not possibly have reached the coast of England 
before seven or eight in the evening, which means in complete 
darkness. During the early hours of the 22nd, at a time when the 
barometer west of the Hebrides — i.e. about GOO geographical miles 
west of Heligoland — was giving warning of the approaching storm, 
the flocks which arrived here at noon of the same day in such un- 
usual haste, must have been at the said time at least at an equal 
distance to the east of this island, or, in other words, more than 
1200 geographical miles from the area in which the signs of the 
disturbance were then becoming evident. Nevertheless, all the 
individuals of this immense migratory host manifested a decided 
presentin^ent of the approaching storm, each striving to reach the 
goal of the day's journey before the loosening of the elements. 

In the above instance the birds hastened to meet the storm, of the 
imminence of which they had already become sensible in the elevated 
regions of their migratory path, it being evidently their object b}- 
extra efforts to reach in time some safe shelter or resting-place. On 



METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 81 

the other hand, cases very frequently occur where birds, under the 
presentiment of approaching adverse weather, appear to travel in 
advance of it. 

To this category belong the enormous multitudes of Larks, 
Golden Plovers, Lapwings, Common Curlews, and Dunlins, which, 
during the nights of the earlier winter months, make their appear- 
ance long after the expii-ation of the normal time of migration. 
To these may be added Fieldfares in considerably less quantity : 
and, lastly. Blackbirds in still smaller numbers. 

Such migrations are followed, almost invariably', by an excep- 
tionally heavy snowfall and very severe cold. In fact, when an 
abnormal night-migration like this is followed, about twenty-four 
hours after, by dense snowstorms and sharp frost, our fowlers may 
generally be heard expressing themselves to this effect : ' Ah, those 
birds .' w'hat cunning fellows they are, to be sure. They knew very 
well what was coming all along.' It is, however, also possible that 
the feeding-places of the birds in the regions where they had hoped 
to spend the winter may have been suddenly covered with snow, 
and the birds thus driven directly, by want of food, to seek safety 
in flight along the regular east-to-west route of their autumn 
migration, the winter slowly following in their rear. This, however, 
by no means excludes the assvmiption, which is indeed probably 
much nearer to the truth, that such flocks have been roused to 
a timely departure by a presentiment of the approaching weather 
changes. In any case, these late arrivals have not as yet experi- 
enced want ; they are invariabl}' in far too plump condition to 
countenance such a sujDposition. 

Cases of this kind occur more especiallj' at the end of December 
and beginning of January. Thus, on the night of the 23rd of Decem- 
ber, a sudden mass-migration of Larks, Golden Plovers, Curlews, and 
Dunlins was observed, the wind at the time blowing lightly from 
the west, with a mild temperature. On the 2.5th a change of the 
wind to the north-west took place, hail and snow being at the same 
time experienced. These conditions were followed in the succeed- 
ing days by a violent south-east wind, accompanied by snow- 
storms. The north-west wind would not have induced the birds 
to abandon their temporary place of residence ; this could only 
have happened in consequence of a presentiment of the approach- 
ing wintry south-east wind and snowstorm. The migration pro- 
ceeded manifestly from the east, a direction from which wintry 
weather invariably reaches this island, for it was accompanied by 
the Northern Bullfinch {PyrrJmla major), a bird which is seen 
here on very rare occasions, and then, as a rule, only when there 
occurs a strong migration from eastern regions. Late migrations 

F 



82 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

ot this kind preceding wintry weather almost always consist 
exclusively of quite old individuals, for the most part males ; thus, 
of about a hundred Larks obtained during that night, nearly all 
were remarkably large males, measuring, with few exceptions, 
7^ inches from the foi-ehead to the tip of the tail. Naumann 
mentions 7 inches as the greatest length of these birds. Such 
Blackbirds as are seen under these conditions are almost, without 
exception, in black plumage, with orange beaks, i.e. old males. 

Retarded night-migrations of the kind just described still occur 
with a certain amount of regularity, though not on an equally large 
scale, in every year. These are, however, not to be classed with 
another exceptional migration-phenomenon, similar in character 
but of much rarer occurrence, and hardly ever witnessed before 
February. In this case, also, enormous flocks of migrants, princi- 
pally seed-eating .species, make their appearance quite suddenly ; 
but instead of arriving by night, and before the setting-in of 
snowy weather, these birds make their appearance by day, after the 
wintry conditions have already set in, and mostly during very severe 
cold and snow. The Hocks in question are made up of millions of 
Larks, Twites, Linnets, Greenfinches, and lesser numbers of Gold- 
finches, Yellow and Conuiion Buntings ; in some cases, fiocks of 
Snipe are associated with these birds, flying about exhausted, like 
droves of Partridges. All these birds arrive during the early houi'S of 
the morning and forenoon, first appearing, if I remember rightl}', from 
a rather more northerly direction than usual. Their flight is weak, 
they are all very lean, and appear to be very hungr}', inasmuch as 
they at once alight on ever}' strip of grass still free from snow, and 
on the green cabbages in the gardens ; there they run about picking 
at every bit of green which is not yet covered by snow, with their 
feathers all on end, and presenting a generally soriy appearance. 
There is thus a vast difterence between these birds and those other 
flocks previously discussed, whose arrival has anticipated the incle- 
ment weather. While these earlier birds are well nourished, espe- 
cially the Lapwings and Golden Plovers, and hasten past in rapid 
and vigorous flight without requiring rest, the later ones have evi- 
dently been reduced to the utmost need through lack of food. It 
remains to be explained why these birds, unlike the others, did not 
obey the premonitory signs of the approaching weather-changes, or 
depart immediately on the occurrence of the snowfall. The reason 
probably is, that, owing to the advanced period of the year, having 
already either reached their winter quarters, or districts near them, 
these birds had lost in gi'eat part the instinctive sense of the 
necessity of an autunm migration : that thej' resisted such faint 
migration impulses as were still left them, until the utmost need 



METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 83 

drove them to seek safety in flight ; and that this flight took 
place, as one might have expected, in the normal direction of the 
autumn migration of their species. 

Besides the birds above enumerated, there frequently appear, on 
occasions of this kind, other visitors whose numbers are specially 
increased during severe cold, viz., the Connnon Buzzard, the Rock 
Pipit, the Sanderling, the Purple Sandpiper, less numerously, the 
Knot, and, what is singular, at times also, one or two Hen Harriers. 
An exceptional winter migration of this kind took place on the 
14th of February 1876, during a heavy snowfall, which continued 
mcessantly throughout the day ; and on another occasion at the 
bearinninsr of ItSSl. The weather in the latter case had been mild 
until the middle of January ; but fi'om the 16th to the 22d, the 
thermometer sank to —10' C. (14" F.), an unusually severe degree 
of cold for Heligoland, on account of the warmth, radiated by the 
sea, which surrounds this island on all sides. 

On the 17th, a mass-migration of Larks and Fringillidfo took 
place, accompanied, in this instance, by Shore Larks and Snow 
Buntings, as well as extraordinarily large numbers of Rock Pipits, 
and the before-named northern species of Tringw. Goosanders, a 
few examples of the Smew, Swans, and northern Sea Ducks, also 
made their appearance, giving ample proof that winter had set in 
with great vigour in some region or other. 

We must now mention a third exceptional phenomenon of 
migration, somewhat similar in character, which is likewise evoked 
by the occurrence of a sudden spell of wintry weather. In this 
case, birds already in full pursuit of their spring migration are 
compelled by frost and snow to recede completely from the journey 
to their nesting homes. This phenomenon is much more sur- 
prising than the migratory movements previously discussed, which 
though exceptional, nevertheless invariably proceed in the nor- 
mal direction of the migration. One has, in consequence, much 
more rarely an opportunity to observe a real backward movement 
of the kind referred to. In fact, during the whole of my experience, 
I have witnessed only one instance of this kind, but that on a 
really gi-and scale. This happened in March 1879 — the weather 
in the course of the first week of the month had been raw and 
cold, although the temperature remained all the time above freezing- 
point. During the second week a powerful migration took place. 
Blackbirds, and even Song Thrushes, wore fairly abundant. The 
Pied Wagtail also was already seen in strikingly large numbers ; the 
same was the case with the Linnet and Twite. From the 11th to the 
14th, the wind was a stormy north-west one, accompanied by snow 
and hail, and the temperature sank to several degrees below freezing- 



84 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

point. On the 15th, the wind changed to a very light south-west, 
and was followed by a thaw, which lasted over the 16th. During 
the intervening night, a migration on an enormous scale took place, 
such as I had never experienced before, nor have ever witnessed 
since. The air was literally filled with hundreds of thousands of 
Curlews, Golden Plovers, Lajjwings, Snipe, Oyster-catchers, Sand- 
pipers, and vast quantities of Geese. It is impossible to describe 
the babel of voices, resounding through the black darkness of 
night, from near and far. Prominentlj- among these, the loud wild 
call of the Common Curlew, rinsjino- throuarh the darkness in a 

' CD O O 

thousand varying tones, lent to the whole scene a weird, almost 
awe-inspiring character. 

The whole phenomenon, combined with the sudden arrival of 
mild, calm weather, could apparently allow of only one conclusion, 
viz., that the winter was at an end, that the spring migration had 
commenced with rare and unusual vigour, and that the birds in 
joyful throngs were hastening to tlieir summer homes. 

All this, however, proved a dehision ; a glance at the travelling 
flocks at once revealed to one's great astonishment that they were 
flying in a direction from east to west, — in other words, that they 
Avere turning their backs ujjon their nesting stations. I must 
confess that for a moment I felt completely taken aback at this 
discovery ; for I repeat, that a migration in such extraordinary num- 
bers, taken in connection with the advent of mild weather in the 
middle of March, allowed of but one conclusion, viz. that the following 
days woidd be warm, and accompanied by light south-cast winds. 

This powerful migration began after midnight, and lasted until 
the morning, though it was prolonged by large nimibers of Lapwings 
throughout the whole of the following forenoon, while several Snipe 
and Blackbirds, which had arrived early in the morning, resumed 
their journey without delay. 

The few Lapwings that alighted ran about in a sorrj- state, 
looking half-frozen and stai-ved. The next few days brought a 
solution of the mystery. Winter had returned, bringing with it a 
stormy north-easter, frost and snow ; and east winds continued to 
prevail up to the 28th, at times developing into storms, and accom- 
panied by snow and frost. On the 29th and succeeding daj's, the 
wind changed to south, the sky was overcast, the air mild, with 
some light rain. The spring migration now commenced in full 
earnest. Throughout the whole day till late in the afternoon, great 
flocks of Hooded Crows winged their way high overhead, and with 
much noise, across the island. During the night of the 30th, 
' millions,' as m}' journal has it, of Plovers of all kinds, as well as 
Curlews, Dunlins, and like species, travelled past. On the follow- 



METEOEOLOGICAL CONDITIONS 85 

ing day, Redbreasts, Golden-crested Wrens, Pipits, Wagtails, Hedge 
Sparrows, and Chats, made their appearance. I even obtained a 
Wolfs Bluethroat (Sylvia wolfii), a tine old male. From that time 
onward the migration proceeded undisturbed in its usual course. 

The meteorological conditions hitherto discussed, while un- 
doubtedly mfluencing migration in a high degree, yet allow the 
movement to proceed, though in a manner departing from its 
normal course. The conditions now to be discussed, on the other 
hand, are actually the very worst enemies of our shooters and 
fowlers, inasmuch as they either completely prevent every kind of 
migration from taking place, or quickly put an end to any migra- 
tory movement which may have already commenced. 

First and foremost among these deterrent influences we must 
place fog, during which not a bird is visible. As soon as it 
makes its apjoearance the stream of migrants at once rises into 
clearer strata of the atmosphere, and such of the travellers as may 
be staying on the island forthwith depart on its approach. Should, 
notwithstanding, any Snipe be met with at this time, these are 
invariably so shy and wild that it is next to impossible to get a 
shot at them. 

It frequently happens in spring that during the early hours of 
the morning, and in the forenoon, not a bird is to be seen, although 
the weather is in the highest degree favourable for migrator}- pur- 
poses. The cause of this is well known here ; ever}' shooter at once 
says : ' There must be a fog somewhere.' In such cases the subse- 
quent weather reports sent by telegraph from the nearest coast of 
the mainland invariably prove the correctness of this assumption 
by announcing the prevalence of fog in those parts : or the fog 
actually makes its appearance here in the course of the day. 

Thus, on lOtli March 1S80, the conditions were : wind south, 
light; clear, warm — all of such a nature that one would have 
expected to witness migratory phenomena ; whereas, on the other 
hand, my journal says : ' Nothing — there must be hoar-frost or fog 
somewhere.' Later on, at five o'clock in the afternoon, we accord- 
ingly find : ' Wind north-east and east-north-east, fog.' I could give 
hundreds of similar extracts, but will only mention one or two, 
which show that the migration does not always completely cease 
with fog, but in many cases is simply transferred to higher regions 
of the atmosphere. Thus, on the 9th of February 1878, there was 
a dense fog from one o'clock a.m. to half-past seven m the evening. 
At noon, however, the fog happened to clear for a short time, when 
large flocks of larks were at once seen travelling eastwards in the 
direction of the spring migration. In regard to the 3rd April 1880, 
my diary states as follows : — ' Wind south-east, light ; fog ; rain — 



86 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Nothing.' In the night from twelve to three a.m. the fog had dis- 
persed, during which time enormous numbers of Thrushes, Chats, 
Starhngs, Golden Plovers, Lapwings, Oyster-catchers, and Sandpipers 
were observed ; on the fog subsequently returning, not a bird was 
afterwards either heard or seen at the glasses of the lighthouse. In 
April, with light south-east winds and some rain, a powerful migra- 
tion ought to have taken place, and the fog alone must have forced 
it for the time being to clearer strata of the air above. Frequently 
the height to which the fog extends is so inconsiderable that it is 
possible to distinguish the thousand different call-notes of the 
Larks travelling above the stratum of mist ; sometimes, indeed, one 
may stand on the cliff two hundred feet high, in a perfectl}' clear 
and cloudless atmosphere, and look down upon one continuous 
heaving mass of mist extending to the distant horizon, and covering, 
in one uniform shroud, the whole expanse of sea. 

Dew and hoar-frost, both probably traceable in their origin to 
similar causes, also manifest a similar influence on migration. Both 
are regularly accompanied by conflitions of weather in all other 
respects most favourable to migration ; yet, in spite of ' the most 
splendid opportunity,' as Hcligolanders express it, not a bird is seen 
in the early hours of the morning, if there has been dew or hoar- 
frost during the preceding night. Both of these conditions almost 
invariably make their aj^pearance concurrently with fair weather — 
i.e. with a calm clear air and light easterly and south-easterly winds, 
so that they are here regarded as the precursors and sustainers of 
fine weather. Accordingly, one finds oneself puzzled to know 
what it is that makes them so disagreeable to birds. Even moths 
are known not to swarm or migrate on evenings in summer on 
which there happens to be a fall of dew, though all other conditions 
may be favourable ; this is the more surprising, inasmuch as a light 
Avarm rain does not by any means produce an immediate check on 
their movements. 

As soon, however, as, during the hours of the forenoon in March 
and early April, the dew has given way before the sun. Blackbirds 
and Snipe ahnost regularly make their appearance, dropping down, 
as it were, from the sky. Such, for instance, was the case on the 
2nd of March 1883. The morning was clear and beautiful, and, 
excepting for a scarcely-perceptible air-current from the north and 
north-north-east, perfectly calm. Unfortunately, however, there 
was a sharp hoar-frost : but for the latter. Blackbirds and Snipe 
would have unfailingly made their appearance during the early 
hours, but not a bird was to be seen. In the course of the forenoon, 
and later during the day, .some Snipe and Blackbii'ds did make their 
appearance, and Cranes, too, were observed to pass over the island. 



METEOEOLOGICAL CONDITIONS 87 

On the 21st and 22ncl of March 1880, the wind was east, the air 
cahn and clear ; but again hoar-frost, — consequently, in the way of 
birds, ' nothing at all.' On the 23rd : wind south-east, calm, clear, 
hoar-frost, and nothing except a few Hooded Crows and some 
species of Finches. On the 24th : wind south-east ; during the fore- 
noon and later, Hooded Crows, Rooks, and Jackdaws, Wood Pigeons, 
a pair of Wagtails and Yellow Buntings. During all these days, 
neither Blackbirds nor Snipe wei'e observed, although the weather 
was such that both species would have been numerously represented 
if this had not been prevented by the hoar-frost. On the 26th, 
27th, and 2(Sth : an easterly wind : cold fog ; naturally nothing in 
the way of birds. On the 29th : weather perfectly calm, overcast, 
warmer ; forthwith, in the early moi^ning hours. Starlings in flocks 
of hundreds : Blackbirds and Redbreasts in fairly large quantities. 
Of Woodcocks, two hundred and fifty were killed, an imprece- 
dented number for the spring migration. Claus Aeuckens and his 
nei)hew shot thirty-five of these birds, during the early morning 
hours, at the foot of the cliff. 

We have just intimated that the movements of nocturnal 
butterflies and moths are likewise subject to meteorological in- 
fluences ; this view is sup^wrted by repeated observations, which 
show that these insects travel past this island under the same con- 
ditions as birds, and for the most part, in their company, in an east- 
to-west direction. The)- fly in swarms the numbers of which defy all 
attempts at computation, and can only be expressed by millions, 
r^nfortunately, I have hitherto not been able to ascertain the time of 
arrival of these nudtitudes of western emigrants on the English 
coast, which might have enabled me to determine the velocity of 
their flight in the same way as was done in the case of the Hooded 
Crows. According to information received from my friend, John 
Cordeaux, whose country seat is situated on the east coast of Eng- 
land, oppo-site Heligoland, Flusia gamma is frequently seen there 
suddenly in such enormous numbers that only the assumption of 
an immigration en raasse can explain the phenomenon. 

In evidence of what has just been stated, I may be allowed to 
quote some notes relating to this subject from my ornithological 
diary: — On the night of the 25th of October 1872, during a very 
powerful migration of Larks, many thousands of .H^T/fcei-nia rfe/oZiaria, 
intermingled with hundi'eds of Hyhernia aurantiayria, travelled 
over the island. In the following year, on the night of the 29th of 
July, the weather being warm and perfectly calm, thousands of 
Eugonia artgularia, together with hundreds of Gnojjhria quadra, 
passed in the midst of a strong migration of young Golden Plovers 
and Ringed Plovers, and of many Sandpipers. So, again, on the 



88 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

night of the 12th of August 1877, during a light east wind and 
very light wai'ui rain, ' myriads ' oi Plicslu gamma migrated in com- 
pany with the shore-birds already mentioned, and many young birds 
of the Wheatear, the Willow Warbler, and other small species. 

Of quite special interest is the occurrence here, on the 23rd ot 
June 1880, during perfectly calm, warm weather, of the Desert 
Chat, a southern species extremely rare in Central and Northern 
Europe, side by side with Papilio podalirkis, a butterfly which is 
rather rare in Germany, and in Heligoland had only been seen on 
one previous occasion. The weather previously from the 1.5th of 
the month had been clear and warm, with light-easterly and 
south-easterly winds. 

On no previous occasion, however, have the migrations of 
P^ttsm (/«»i7Ho reached to such an extent as they did during the 
middle of August 1882. On the 15th of that month the wind was 
south-east, and the weather fine and warm. Of birds, the following 
had made their appearance : — the Redstart, the Whitethroat, the 
WiUow Warbler, the White Wagtail, the Red Flycatcher, the Whin 
Chat, the Ortolan Bunting, the House Martin, the Sand Martin, and 
the Swift. During the night the wind was south, with a calm and 
warm rain; the small birds above enumerated continued to migrate 
in abundance, as well as large numbers of ' Waders,' — i.e. Plovers, 
Sandpipers, etc., and intermingled with these, from 11 p.m. to 
3 A.M., myriads of P. gainma, like a dense snowstorm, all tra- 
velling in a direction from east to west. Earlj- on the morning 
of the 16th, the wind was west, with rain ; the afternoon was fine, 
sunny, and calm. In the evening, and during the night, the wind 
was south and the weather fine and calm ; there was again a strong 
migration of small birds and ' Waders,' together with countless 
numbers of P. gamma. These migration-phenomena were repeated 
during the nights of the I7th and 18th, with very light southerly 
and westerly winds. On the 19 th, with a south-east wind and fine 
weather, many Warblers, Flycatchers, and like species were seen 
during the day. During the night the sky was overcast, but large 
numbers of ' Waders,' again accompanied by P. gamma in millions, 
were still seen, all travelling from east to west. During the night 
of the 20th there was a thunderstorm at some distance, which 
put an end to migration of every kind. 

This leads us up to the question as to the influence which 
powerful electrical changes in the atmosphere exert on migration. 
Thus, the regular migration of P. gamma, above referred to, had 
actually commenced as early as on the night of the 11th of August, 
during which a migration of birds also took place ; both, however, 
were soon after interrupted by thunderstorms. My diary has the 



JMETEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 89 

following note in regard to these phenomena : — 13th of August, 
wind south-south-east ; on the previous evening, south-east. At 
the beginning of the night, before midnight, of the 12th, Redstarts, 
Wheatear, Plovers, Sand2:)ipers, and similar species, were on the 
move. Later on in the night a violent thunderstorm broke out, 
putting an end to the migration. The morning of the 13th was 
clear, fine, warm, but no birds were to bo seen ; query, had the 
thunderstorm prevented their setting out on their migration 
journey ? A day later, the migration of all birds due at the time 
was commenced afresh, and lasted, with light southerly and south- 
easterly winds and tine weather, until the 20th, whereupon, again, 
on the night of the 21st, a thunderstorm, followed by stormy north- 
west winds, put an end to all migratory movements. These condi- 
tions of weather prevailed until the 4th of September, on which day 
calm and fine weather set in, with a light north wind which veered 
round to north-east, and, later on, to south, whereupon Redstarts, 
Warblers, Flycatchers, Chats, Dotterels, and many ' Waders ' made 
their appearance in the full prosecution of their migratory journey. 

The sheet- or sununer-lightning, which is often observed on 
evenings after very hot days, has a similar deterrent eftect on 
migration, and the same may be said in regard to the powerful 
electrical discharges, not usually followed by thunder, which 
frequently take j^l^ce during the nights of late autumn, and 
regularly precede and accompany violent storms. 

Another very peculiar phenomenon also intimately connected with 
thunderstorms is the regular but temporary appearance, in millions, 
of the large Dragon-fly {Lihellida quadriimnctata) before such 
disturbances. Countless swarms of these insects make their ap- 
pearance all of a sudden during the calm, sultry hours preceding 
the catastrophe, while thunder-clouds gather on the horizon, and, 
heaped upon each other, project into the blue ether beyond, hke so 
many giant mountains of snow. 

The directions whence these insects proceed cannot be ascer- 
tained, nor do they arrive in swarms or companies, but solitary 
individuals or scattered gi-oups probably congregate on the spot in 
one vast throng. The assembling individuals or groups must, how- 
ever, follow each other in very rapid succession, for in a short time 
the face of the cliff, still illumined by the sun, all the buildings, 
hedges, and dry twigs on the island, are covered with them. Nor 
is it necessary for the occurrence of this phenomenon that the 
storm should actually discharge itself over Heligoland, or even in 
its immediate neighbourhood, but only that the thunder-clouds 
extend over about two-thirds of the whole expanse of sky as 
measured from the horizon to the zenith. The insects vanish 



90 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAXD 

as suddenly as the}' a]3pear, so that hardly one of them is dis- 
coverable on the following morning. It is not kno\vn whether they 
proceed further west, though this is probably the case. It is certain, 
at any rate, that they do not remain here, otherwise one would 
undoubtedly find them lying about dead after the heavy rain of 
a thiuiderstorm. 

We must, in conclusion, mention some other phenomena of 
migration of rarer occurrence, and only repeated at intervals of 
many years. These also are undoubtedly occasioned by meteor- 
ological influences, although it is not always possible to prove this 
to be actuall}' the case. To this category specially belongs the 
sudden occurrence en masse of a species in parts of the world 
far remote from its home, and in which under ordinary conditions 
it is hardly ever known to visit. To such cases belongs the 
irruption of Pallas' Sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus), an Asiatic 
species, over the whole of Europe, where it appeared in thousands 
in 1863, and again in tens of thousands in 1888. The causes of 
such phenomenal migrations may be assigned, with a fair degree 
of certainty, to similar meteorological events of exceptional char- 
acter; in the instance last cited, posssibly to a sudden very ex- 
tensive snoAvfall, which, having covered all the nests of these early 
breeding birds, induced them to leave their nesting homes in such 
astonishing numbers. The cold spring months of 1888 would seem 
to lend some support to this supposition. 

Next in order must be considered the sporadic and sinuiltaneous 
appearance in numbers of different species originating from Eastei-n 
Asia, which, though not repeated at regular intervals, always takes 
place only under certain well-defined conditions of weather. A 
2)henomenon of this kind on a most extensive scale presented itself 
in the autumn of 1847. The most noticeable feature of the migra- 
tion of that season was the enormous and unprecedented quantity of 
Mealy Redpoles (Fringillu ^Miaria) which visited the island, mixed 
with which, to the extent of about one-third, was the Eastern form, 
F. exilipes, a species which is somewhat smaller than F. livaria, 
besides having the shortest beak of this group of Red-breasted 
Finches, as well as a pure white unspotted rump. Redpoles are 
altogether of extremely rare occurrence here. A few specimens at 
most are taken at any one time, and even these cannot be relied on 
every year. In the year in question, however, which was also very 
productive of other JEastern visitors, these birds appeared from the 
middle of October to the middle of November in hundreds almost 
daily ; while on the 4th and 5th of November these numbers in- 
creased to such enormous proportions that the whole island was 
literally covered with them. In fact, as Glaus Aeuckens, who at 



METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 91 

that time was still a boy, expresses it : — ' One could not throw a stone 
in any direction without it hitting numbers of tliese birds as long 
as it was rolling along the ground.' During both of these months 
the prevailing wind was east, and frequently south-east. The same 
winds were experienced from the second half of December up to 
the middle of the following Januarj'. 

Besides the above-named species, the Shore Lark appeared for 
the first time here during the same autumn in very large flocks. 
Vp to that time the bird was almost unknown on this island, 
only three examples having been on obc occasion met with and 
shot by those excellent authorities on anything ever seen here, 
viz., the three brothers Aeuckens. Since the autumn of 1847, 
however, the bird has appeared here with increasing frequency, 
having at the same time steadily advanced its breeding stations 
westwards from the extreme east of Asia, so that it has long 
since become a settled breeding species in northern Scandinavia, 
and will undoubtedly next extend its breeding area to the north 
of Scotland. 

It has been hinted that this Lark may have probably occurred 
in equally large numbers previous to that time, but have been over- 
looked. This view, however, cannot be admitted in the case of 
Heligoland, where at that time there were resident three such 
observant and businesslike collectors as ' Old Koopmann,' Reymers, 
and Oelrich, — the eldest of the three brothers Aeuckens, generally 
called ' Old Oelk.' The last-named of the three, during the migra- 
tion period of the Shore Lark, which, moreover, coincides with that 
of the Snipe, searched every square foot of the i.sland at least twice 
every day, and it is quite impossible that the striking call-note of 
this restless bird, uttered both on the wing and when running about 
on the groiuid, should have escaped his observation. In the course 
of the last few decades the numbers of these birds which make their 
appearance here have steadily increased to such a degree that they 
are now to be counted every autumn by hundreds of thousands, 
while thousands of them now also alight here again in the course 
of their spring migi-ation, these last being undoubtedly individuals 
which have passed the winter in England. 

The autumn of this same year also brought to this island 
many Bullfinches, numerous AVaxwings, and of course a rather 
large number of Richard's Pipit, with a fairly large quantity of 
Coal Titmice, — all these species affording pi'oofs of an excep- 
tionally strong migration from the far East. Besides, at the end 
of October of the same year, Sabine's Gull was shot here, while the 
Smew was observed very frequently. On the 10th of December 
nine examples of Anser niveus were observed flying past the shore, 



92 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

and Cinclus Pallasi was identified at a distance of from four to six 
paces on the 31st of December, all of which instances afford further 
strong proofs of an exceptionally powerful mass-migration from 
east to west. The weather, moreover, was highly favourable to a 
jnovement of this kind, or, more correctly speaking, was its originat- 
ing cause, for, as has been already stated, easterly, and more 
particularly south-easterly, winds predominated during the whole 
time of this migration. 

I had long entertained the opinion, I might almost say con- 
viction, that the calms and east winds prevailing here during these 
powerful migrations from the far East extended to the remote parts 
of Eastern Asia. For a long time, however, I was unable to assure 
myself of the truth of this conjecture. I have, however, quite re- 
cently been enabled to do so through the extraordinary kmdness and 
assistance of Professor Neumayer, director of the Marine Observa- 
tory at Hamburg, who has supplied me with extracts from the 
records of the meteorological observations conducted on a large 
scale at the instance of the Russsian Government, not only through 
the European but also the Asiatic portions of that empire. I repro- 
duce these data within a brief comjjass, and in a form best adapted 
to the object in view ; calling special attention to the fact that, 
although only twelve points of the compass, from north-east 
through east to south, are adduced as favourable to the migratory 
movement in question, twenty points from south through west to 
north-east being consequently opposed to it, the result is, neverthe- 
less, in all pertinent cases an exceedingly favourable one. 

The year 1879 also was distinguished, both during the spring 
and autumn migrations, by very numerous occurrences of eastern 
and south-eastern species. This is the last year for which I have 
meteorological observations from Russia at my disposal ; these, 
however, extend over nine stations from 21" to 82" 47' longitude 
east of Greenwich. (See table, p. 95.) It is hardly necessary to 
mention that easterly, and more particularly south-easterly, winds 
and calms prevailed in Heligoland during both periods of migra- 
tion, and the same was the case along the whole track of migra- 
tion from here to Semipalatinsk and Barnaoul, beyond which the 
observations do not at that time seem to have been extended. 
The total results from these nine localities for the year in question 
gave for the months of May and June 319 days of favovu-able, 
as against 230 days of unfavourable travelling weather, while 
for the months of September and October the relations were 
3251 favourable, as against 162J unfavourable days. For the year 
1847 already referred to, data from one place only have come to 
hand, viz., Lugau, south-east of iloscow; during the months of 



METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 93 

September, October, and November, calms and easterly winds pre- 
vailed in that locality for 69i daj-s, the winds being westerly and 
northerly during the remaining 21 i days. 

In 1859 the autumn migration was again characterised by the 
appearance in force of East Asiatic species, though on nothing like 
so large a scale as in 1847. Nevertheless I obtained three examples 
of the Yellow-browed Warbler (Sylvia superciliosa), two of Teng- 
malm's Owl, and many Richard's Pipit, while, lastly, one of the 
rare sporadic occurrences of the Jay in large numbers took place in 
the same year. The prevaiHng winds here during this period were 
south-easterly, and the results of the stations Lugau and Kursk for 
September and October were : — Favourable easterly winds and 
calms for 84f days, as opposed to 37 5 days of unfavourable westerly 
and northerly winds. 

Duiing the spring months of 1879 the following species 
were observed here : The Large-billed Reed- Bunting {Emheriza 
jyijrrhuloidefs), Pallas' Short-toed Lark (AlaiuJa ■pispoletta), the 
Eleonora Falcon (Fulco Eleonone), Sylvia viridana, the Black- 
headed Bunting {Emheriza melanocephala) twice, the Rose- 
coloured Starling three times, the Serin Finch — which imtil that 
time I had only obtained once — five or six times, and also the Black- 
Avinged Stilt ; though these last, as well as the Eleanora Falcon, were 
not shot, their occurrences were placed beyond all doubt. The four 
first-named species had, up to that time, not been observed on the 
island. 

So favourable were the indications for the occurrence of spring 
visitors from the far East in that year, that I advised my friend, 
John Cordeaux — whose estate is on the east coast of England in the 
sarao latitude as Heligoland — by letter, to keejj a jiarticularly watch- 
ful eye on the wanderers, as I felt sure that rare occurrences like these 
would also find their way to England. My .surmises indeed proved 
correct, for on the 27th of July one of two examples of a Swift, the 
Spine-tailed Swift (Cyjjselus caudacuta) were shot there, the home 
of which species extends through Eastern Asia to Australia and 
New Zealand. It can hardly be doubted that at the same time 
other interesting birds reached the British coast vid Heligoland 
without having been seen, while others, having j^robably lost their 
way in Austria and Germany, were unable to continue their journey 
to this island. 

In the course of the autumn migration of the same year the 
Yellow-browed Warbler [Sylvia, superciliosa) was observed re- 
peatedly, and on one occasion also killed. Sylvia reguloides, with 
its strikingly light-yellow rump was seen on the Sth and 9th of 
October, probably the same example on both days. The Red- 



94 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

throated Pipit (Antlius cercinus) occurred repeatedly; of eight 
examples of the Little Bunting four were shot ; of live of the Rustic 
Bunting only one unfortunately was killed on the 28th of Septem- 
ber. Among- these must also be mentioned the appearance in this 
place of the White-backed Woodpecker (Ficus leuconotus). Whether 
the same remark holds good in reference to a Greenland Redpole 
(FringiUa Hornemanvi), shot on the 24th of October, I am not in a 
position to decide. The Shore Lark, however, had occurred at that 
time in large numbers, and also one example of the Siberian Herring 
Gull {Lams affinis) on the 20th of the same month. During the 
night from the 24th to the 2.5th, as well as on the night following, 
flocks of Starlings, their numbers beyond all computation, were 
observed migrating, these vast numbers pointing to a breed- 
ing area of far eastward extent. The migration on these nights 
likewise included enormous flocks of Golden and Grey Plovers, 
species whose breeding stations are known to extend far east 
through Northern Asia. Under these conditions may we not also 
suppose, that the Greenland Redpole, possibly, has its breeding 
home in these eastern parts of the extreme north, and that the 
birds joined on this occasion the exceptionally powerful stream of 
migration which characterised that particular year ? 

The data given on p. 95 may therefore be regarded as a sub- 
stantial proof of the views I have repeatedly expressed in the 
course of this chapter, viz., that easterly, and more particularly 
south-easterh' winds, sometimes so light as virtuallj" to amount to 
calms, form the most acceptable travelling weather for birds during 
both periods of migrations, and that if meteorological conditions of 
this kind prevail during the autumn months in the lower strata of the 
atmosphere as far as Eastern Asia, they bring in their train an excep- 
tionally powerful migration, as well as rare and unusual occurrences. 

Quite recently I have had the pleasure of being able to join 
another link to the long chain of observations bearing on this 
subject; inasmuch as Mr. John Cordeaux, whose name I have 
mentioned on several previous occasions, informs me of the result 
of his own observations of many years, which show :— ' That, on that 
portion of the east coast of England which lies opposite Heligoland, 
birds are in the habit of appearing in large numbers with easterly 
and south-easterly winds, but that, with winds in the opposite direc- 
tions, their numbers observed are very small, the migrants in the 
latter case probably travelling according to their normal manner 
at orreat heights overhead.' This result, based on observations 
extending over many years, entirely agrees with what I have 
endeavoured to prove in full detail in almost all the different 
chapters of this portion of the present work. 



METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 



95 



1 subjoin here a synoptical table of the meteorological observa- 
tions made in the Russian empire in the years 1847, 1859, and 
1879, which are specially distinguished by the occurrence of excep- 
tionally powerful migrations from east to west. The material for 
these data I owe, as I have already stated, to the extraordinary 
kindness of Professor Neumayer, to whom I would here express 
my warmest thanks. 



Observing Station. 


! 




Favourable Re- 
sults: Wind, N'.E. 

to S. and calm. 


Unfav- 
ourable 
Jesuits : 


Total 
Jsumber 


Total Results 1 
in davs. 






I ear. j 


Month. 


>> 






Wind, S. 
through 


of 
Obser- 


Wind: 


Wind: 


Xame. 


E. Long. 


K. Lat. 






1 


= 


Tot.ll. 


W. to 
N.E. 


vations. 


easterly 
and 


westerly 
S. to 










S| 


3 








calm. 


N B. 


jugau 


39° 80' 


48° 55' 


1847 


September 


72 


27 


I 278 
















)» 


October . 
November 


47 
30 


38 
64 


86 


364 


69i 


-H 


Lugau 


39° 80' 


48° 55' 


1859 


September 


43 


33 


" 










Kursk 


36° 8' 


51° 45' 


5) 


October . 
September 
October . 


35 
37 

27 


57 
46 
59 


-337 


151 


488 


84i 


37i 


Baruaoul . 


82° 47' 


53° 20' 


1879 


September 
October . 


16 
16 


55 
44 












Semipalatinsk . 


80° 13' 


50° 24' 


1 ) 


September 
October . 


28 
35 


35 
37 












Katharinenburg 


60° 39' 


56° 53' 




September 
October . 


13 
10 


34 
43 












Tambow . 


41° 28' 


52° 43' 


»j 


September 


24 


29 












Lugau 


39° 80' 


48° 53' 




October . 

September 
October . 


40 
64 
40 


28 
16 

28 


977 


487 


1464 


3251 


162^ 


Kiew 


30° 31' 


50° 26' 




September 
October . 


58 
42 


14 
9 












Wilna 


25° 18' 


54° 41' 




September 
October . 


33 
42 


40 
9 












Warsaw 


21° 2' 


52° 13' 


)) 


September 


52 


10 


, 
















)» 


October . 


21 


10 










Barnaoul . 


82° 47' 


53° 20' 


1879 


May 
June 


30 
27 


14 
31 












Semipalatinsk . 


80° 13' 


50° 24' 


J) 


May 
June 


27 
44 


25 
22 












Katharinenburg 


60° 29' 


56° 53' 




May 
June 


27 
19 


26 
26 












Kasan 


49° 8' 


55° 47' 




May 
June 


42 
19 


11 
22 












Astrachan 


48° 2' 


46° 21' 


J> 


May 
June 


57 
37 


7 
13 


\957 


690 


1647 


319 


230 


Stawropol 


41° 49' 


45° 3' 


)» 


May 
June 


33 
29 


28 
32 












Lugau 


39° 80' 


48° 55' 




May 
June 


i53 
34 


15 
12 












I'insk 


26° 6' 


52° 7' 


)1 


May 
June 


49 
30 


5 
10 


' 










Warsaw . 


21° 2' 


52° 13' 




May 
June 


50 
130 


7 
14 


/ 











96 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

It remains to make mention of a class of weather phenomena 
which appear to run in cycles extending over i^eriods of many jears. 
These, though not exercising a controllmg influence on migration 
in the narrower sense, yet, so far as our experience warrants us in 
conjecturing, affect the general increase or diminution in the num- 
bers of birds occurring during such periods. Thus, within about 
the last thirty years, the number of migrants occurring here, such as 
Thrushes, small Warblers, Snipe, Plovers, Godwits, Sandpipers, and 
related species, and, to a less extent, of Hooded Crows, Starlings, 
Larks, and Chaffinches, appears unquestionably to have undergone 
a general diminution. Side by side with this change, however, 
there has been an equally marked alteration in the meteorological 
conditions of this island. Before this period the weather during 
the spring months April and May, especially the latter, was mostly 
fine and warm, with a prevalence of moderate south-easterly winds. 
During the earlj' morning hours of the second half of April, and still 
more so in May, light south-east, south-south-east, and southerlj' 
winds used generally to be accompanied by fine warm rain, which 
was succeeded by sunshine at about nine o'clock. This latter 
caused a very dense low-lying and slowlj'-shifting layer of mist to 
rise from the light soil of the potato-fields of the Upper Plateau; 
such mists being known here as ' Acl-er bn'igen,' i.e. Field mists 
{hrogen = to rise in vapours, to steam), while the light warm rains 
are known as ' Liitj-Finlcen-Rain.' This latter designation means 
'Small-birds' rain,' a title which is fully justified, for this kind of 
weather used to be invariably attended by a really numberless swarm 
of all kinds of Leaf- Warblers, Chats, Wagtails, Tree and Meadow 
Pipits, Ortolan Buntings, and shnilar species. Goatsuckers might 
have been roused out of every secret cranny ; Landrails in abun- 
dance used to run about in the grass ; Dotterels were seen sitting in 
simple confidence about the ploughed fields, or flying in greater or 
smaller bands round about in the air, uttering their merry kiltt-ki'dt, 
Iciltt-kutt, while the blue sky above resounded with the flute-like 
notes of all the different kinds of Sandpipers. Here and there a 
Rose-coloured Starling, a Black-headed Bunting {Emheriza melano- 
cephala), or a Cretzschmar's Bunting (E. ccvsia), was shot ; and the 
more watchful gunners and fowlers of the island used to bring 
reports of j^eculiar and unknown birds which had managed to escajDO 
them by unusual cunning or through some unlucky accident, and 
whose like they vainly tried to discover in my cabinets. Those 
were days indeed ! Down in my cool cellar stood a large flat 
dish, filled with some fifty or sixty of the handsomest speci- 
ally-selected males of the Northern Bluethroat, while rows of 
other more or less valuable birds were hung round about, in 



METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 97 

order to keep as many as possible in a state fresh enough for 
preparation. 

All this has been completely changed; not by any means 
because the birds have actually diminished in numbers ; for when the 
weather does really once in a way assume moderately favourable 
conditions, the birds reapjDear in as large numbers as before. The 
cause of this change must rather be sought in a complete alteration 
of the general conditions of temperature and weather which have 
come about, not suddenly and subject to variations, but gradually 
and steadily in the course of a long period of time. I am not exag- 
gerating when I say that the last really warm ilay we have had 
here dates back to at least thirty years ago: at present cold and 
drj' north winds prevail at this season ; and had not the expressions 
Acker-Brogen and Liltj-Finl-en-Rain been called forth by the 
memories of those earlier better times, they would surely be no 
longer existent; for the last twenty or thirty years there has — 
with the exception perhaps of May 1879 — hardly ever occurred even 
a faint approach to these earlier and happier conditions of weather. 

This change in climatic conditions has made itself felt also among 
other divisions of animal life. Thus, the number of our native 
nocturnal Lepidoptera has by degrees diminished to such an extent 
that I have almost completely given up collecting these insects, a 
diversion which formerly filled up, in a most agreeable manner, the 
hiatus in the bird-life of our island. Almost all Lepidoptera 
which fly by night show a marked preference for the beautiful 
red-flowered umbels of the Red Spur Valerian {Centravthus ruber), 
which induced me to cultivate a large number of these plants 
in my garden; but whereas, formerly, every evening each plant 
used to be the centre of a teeming crowd of all kinds of moths, 
only scattered individuals now resort to them, with the exception 
of P. gamnna, which still makes its appearance sometimes in com- 
parative abundance. 

Thus, for instance, for the last ten years I have quite given up 
hanging out dried apples as a bait in the evenings, because it would 
be a hopeless task to search for anything upon them. Indeed, the 
summer evenings are now never warm enough to induce the 
insects to swarm. As another instance, the large Dung-beetle, 
Geotrupes stercorariufi, which formerly could be obtained here in 
hundreds, has latterly become quite extinct. I have in vain, within 
the last few years, offered boys five groschen (equal to about six- 
pence) for one example of this insect. The large garden spider, 
Ej^eira dkulema, whose webs used formerly to be stretched in dozens 
over a thick paling in my garden — where, to my annoyance, it used 
to consume many a much-longed-for moth — has quite disappeared 

G 



98 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

within the last ten years. AH these changes can only be attributed 
to alterations in the conditions of temperature. The average 
annual temperature may have remained the same : but, whereas 
the winters are now not particularly cold, the summers are in a 
corresponding degree less warm. Sultry summer evenings are no 
longer known here at all, and even when a day of summer happens 
to be fine and warm, and apparently heralding a good catch of 
moths, it is sure to be followed by a cool, if not actually cold 
evening, with light north winds. 

This change in wind and weather records itself on this island 
in another very striking manner. The little sand island or dune 
belonging to Heligoland has, in the course of years, lost consider- 
ably in extent through the agency of high tides raised by storms, 
the bases of the sandhills having been undermined by the action 
of the waves, and the sand subsequently thrown down has been 
Avashed away by the tide. 

Until about the beginning of the sixties this process of erosion 
used to take place in severe north-western storms on the north 
side of Sandy Lsland. No substantial diminution of land occurred 
in any other part, least of all on the south side. Since that time, 
however, matters have completely changed, the sandhills and 
foreshore being now uninterruptedly torn away by the sea on the 
south side of the dune, while simultaneous!}', on the north side, the 
shore and sandhills have been considerably^ added to. These changes 
are still in progre.ss in the present year of 1890. Processes of this 
kind show that since the beginning of the sixties a complete 
change must have taken place in the prevalent direction of the 
wind, seeing that the entirely different effects noted above could 
only have resulted in consequence of a corresjjonding change in 
the causes which produced them. So much, at any rate, is certain, 
that during the period mentioned there has been no occurrence of 
powerful tides raised by north-westerly gales, such as were frequent 
here formerly; in fact, heavy storms from the north-west have been 
in general among exceptional and isolated jjhenomena. 

The frequency of the earlier occurrences of such hurricane-like 
storms has, indeed, given rise to the application of separate names 
to them in regard to the manner and mode of their development. 
Thus a moderate west wind, accompanied by heavy rain, which 
steadily veered round to the south with increasing force and finally 
developed into a violent south wind, was known by the name of 
App-KrumpcT. This, after a calm of shorter or longer duration, 
was usually succeeded by the sudden eruption of an extremely 
violent storm from the north-west, to which the name tjtt- 
Stj Utter was applied. These expressions may perha^os be rendered 



METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS 



99 



respectively by the terms ' Creeper- up ' i and 'Discharger'- or 
' Shooter-out.' Had these designations not been called into 
existence by the former frequent occurrences of the phenomena to 
which they relate, they would certainly never have been originated 
within the last thirty years, for the simple reason that the causes 
which gave rise to them no longer exist. Nowadays, in fact, 
these phenomena proceed in a markedly different manner. In a 
close and heavy atmosphere, with a downfall of rain, a west wind 
veering round to south with increasing violence, in the manner 
described above, is at present no longer followed by a strange, 
uncanny calm and a sudden hurricane from the north-west, 
but gradually moderates and veers back to its former westerly 
direction. 

With all these meteorological processes, the appearance of birds, 
on this island at least, is without question most intimately con- 
nected. Accordingly, when some of our gunners come to me 
occasionally and complain of the hopeless and unendurable state 
of the snipe-shooting, I am in the habit of returning them what 
may seem a jocular answer, but is nevertheless meant in full 
earnest : ' Only wait till Sandy Island begins to lose on the north 
side again, then you '11 get more Snipe.' Such among them as are 
careful observers will then at once agree with me, well knowing 
that, during the last thirty years, days favourable for migration, 
both in autumn and spring, have been among the rare exceptions. 

' German, ' aufkriechen ' ^ 'to creep up.' 

- German, ' ausschiessen ' = ' to discharge, shoot out.' 




VI. ORDER OF MIGRATION ACCORDING 
TO AGE AND SEX 

The question as to the order of age and sex in whicli migrants 
take up their annual join-neys is one on which, up to the most 
recent time, there have prevailed more serious errors than on any 
other problem comiected with the migration phenomenon. It was 
generally supposed that the old birds acted as the leaders, teachers, 
and guides of the young ones on their migrations; and although this 
view was not based on any observations whatsoever in Nature, it 
seemed so natural and reasonable that it was accepted in pure good 
faith, without subjecting it to the test of observation and experi- 
ence. In regard to this question, however, the last ten or fifteen 
years have amply taught me what an almost hopeless task it is at 
hrst sight to oppose an opinion which has remained uncontested for 
a century. I did not of course expect that the results of my observa- 
tions would have been at once accepted in toto ; but at the same 
time I have been frequently almost amused to see with what caution, 
not to say incredulity, the reports of my observations, in so far as 
they contradicted traditional errors, were received. On the other 
hand, this same opposition and distrust had the good eftect of 
directing a much greater amount of attention to this phenomenon 
from different sides ; and the number of species in regard to which 
one had become gradually convinced that their young commenced 
their autumn migration long before their parents, has been increased 
from year to year. 

Naumann's statements on this question, which will be con- 
sidered more fully later on, are, as a matter of course, based on the 
most searching observations ; they were made, however, in latitudes 
too far south to allow of the phenomena of migration being recog- 
nised in their original simplicity. 

Temminck is, I believe, the only one of the older ornithologists 
who touches upon this question. He only states, however, that 
' the young birds migrate apart from the old ones,' without entering 
fai'ther into the subject {Manuel d'Ornithologie, iii. p. xliii.). 

Palmen in his comprehensive work, The Migration-Routes of 



ORDER OF MIGRATION ACCORDING TO AGE AND SEX 101 

Birds} unreservedly follows the old traditional views, commencing 
the section on the ' so-called migrator}^ instinct,' with the following 
statement : ' Direct observations in Nature have yielded the result 
that among flocks of migrants the older and stronger individuals 
are in general the leaders of the migratory host.' He could not, 
however, have begun the treatment of this question with a more 
unfortunate assertion ; for there is no one who has ever made obser- 
vations which might support this view, nor is there any possible 
way of determining which of the individuals of a migratory Hock, 
travelling at a height of a thousand, or even only five hundred, feet, 
are older or younger birds. Among the few species which fly 
during their migrations at low elevations, rarely exceeding five 
hundred feet, such as Hooded Crows, Starlings, and Larks, a distinc- 
tion between the old and young birds, while on passage, can only be 
made in the case of Starlings, in which the two stages of age are 
characterised by marked difierences in the colour of the plumage. 
These birds, however, as well as Hooded Crows and Larks, travel in 
such irregular, ever-shifting swarms, that there can, apart from all 
other such considerations, be no question of leadership in their case. 
This, however, is, so far as my experience goes, the manner in which 
the majority of birds migrate, the only excejjtion being a few Waders 
and aquatic birds, viz. the Curlews, Cranes, Geese, and related 
species, which pursue their migration-flight either at an acute angle 
of very generallj' unequal legs, or merelj' in a long oblique line. 
Among these, it is true, the individuals at the head frequently change 
places with others, but it is impossible to bring forward even the 
shadow of a proof that the birds flj^ing at the head of the column 
are the older and stronger members of this particular assemblage. 
Body-size is not admissible as a determining factor, nor are 
such differences of size as may exist, sufficiently important to be 
observable at the great height at which the migration proceeds ; 
nor is colour, even where such is still distinguishable, any better 
criterion of the age of individuals in the case of the species under 
consideration. 

Dr. Weissmann (On the Migration of Bii-ds -) likewise accepts the 
usual tradition, and in one of his lectures expresses himself as 
follows : ' In the case of most birds, the oldest and most experi- 
enced members of the flock — i.e., those which have often performed 
the journey before, travel at the head of the migrant host, and show 
the others the way.' Here the question at once suggests itself: if 
this applies only to ' most birds,' what becomes of those who have 
no such leaders ? 

^ Zugstrassen der Vo'jel. Leipzig, 1876. 
^ Ueber das Wandern der Vo'jel, in Giitke. 



102 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

But this representation of the proceeding, raised though it has 
been to the dignity of a scientific doctrine, is really nothing more 
than a plausiblj' sounding fable, in which — quite after the manner 
of a fable — the old and wise individuals represent the teachers and 
guides of simple youth. 

In reality, however, this explanation of the question not only 
lacks all support of actual facts, but is entirely at variance with 
every observation hitherto made in Nature. 

So far as migratory phenomena are concerned, Heligoland may 
with truth be called the ornithological observatory of northern 
Europe, for there is probably no place in the world where this great 
movement is displayed so markedly, in its original form and com- 
pleteness, as upon this little island-rock. This speciallj' applies to 
the autumn migration ; only very few species at this season approach 
the end of their journey on or near this island, and nearly all the 
birds which come under observation are seen hastening to their 
winter quarters in undnuinished numbers and with unabated speed. 

Expressed in the simplest language, the incontestable result of 
all the numerous phenomena as they come under notice here is as 
follows : — 

1. That under normal conditions in the case of the three 
hundred and ninety-six species occurring here, with the exception 
of a single one, the autumn migration is initiated by the young 
birds, fi'om about six to eight weeks after leaving their nests. 

2. That the parents of those young individuals do not follow 
till one or two months later ; and 

3. That of these old birds again, the most handsome old males 
are the last to set out on the migratory journey. In spring this 
order of succession is inverted. This will be treated of more fully 
afterwards. The only exception to the rule to which reference has 
been made above, is found in the case of the Cuckoo, and this for 
reasons easy to divine : for having once foisted her egg on another 
bird's nest, the business of propagation is ended, and having no other 
object for staying in the north, she forthwith takes her departure. 

Numberless and decisive proofs for the above statements are 
furnished by those species whose adult plumage differs so markedly 
from that of the young birds, that one is able to distinguish easily, 
even at some distance, what stage of age one is dealing with. But 
even those species whose adult plumage is less striking, can be pro- 
cured here during the Avhole period of migration in almost any 
desirable number, so that in all directions there is at one's disposal 
most ample material for determining each fact with absolute cor- 
rectness. In support of what has been said above, I will now give a 
few extracts from my ornithological journal, which I hop)e will 



ORDER OF MIGRATION ACCORDING TO AGE AND SEX 103 

settle beyond all doubt the question as to the difference in the time 
of migration of old and young birds. Among the species specially 
bearing on this question, the Starlings occupy a place of special 
prominence, not only on account of the marked differences of their 
early and advdt plumage, but also because of their appearance in 
extraordinary numbers, in regard to which latter phenomenon the 
year 1878 was particularly distinguished. The entries are as 
follows : — 

Starling : some few scattered examples of old birds in much worn 
plumage during the first week in June, these being probably individuals 
which had lost their spouses, or the broods of which had perished. 

Jime 20 and 21. — Great flights of young birds. 
„ 22 and 23. — Enormous quantities of young birds. 

Thousands of young birds daily luitil the end of the month. 
July. — From the 1st to the 12th, from thousands to tens of thousands 
of young birds daily. 
,, 16. — Many flocks of young birds. 
,, 25. — Immense multitudes of young birds. 
Hereupon ensues a pause of two months during which no Starlings^ 
neither young nor old birds, occurred ; after this the migration 
began afresh in the following manner : — 
September 22. — Starlings— old birds in fresh plumage— flights of 

many hundreds. 
October 2 and 7. — Large quantities of old birds. 
,, 8. — Flights of thousands. 

,, 13. — Hooded Crows and old Starlings in tens of thousands. 
„ 14. — Hooded Crows in many thousands ; Starhngs in hundreds 
of thousands. 
October 1.5th, many; 16th, very few; 20th, tens of thousands; 28th, 

very many. 
November 18 and 19. — Flights of old Starlings, numbering from 

twenty to fifty individuals. 
December 9 to 18. — Daily flights of from forty to sixty individuals. 

The course of the migration of the Starling j^roceeds here in 
the same manner year after year, provided it is not interfered with 
by wind or weather. Young grey birds migrate across Heligoland 
and on both sides of it in a broad column from the last week in 
June to the end of July ; then thei'e ensues a pause of from six to 
eight weeks, followed at about the end of September by the appear- 
ance of the first of the old birds in black plumage. Their numbers 
increase in the course of October to astonishing j^i'oportions, 
diminish considerably in November, and end in small flights 
towards the close of the year. 

After the Starlings, the Wheatear appears here on favourable 



104 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

days during the autumn migration in such vast quantities that it 
deserves to be considered next. In this instance, again, the young 
birds, from about six to eight weeks old, are the first to migrate 
about the middle of July. In the year 1880 the advance-guard 
of these immigrants arrived here on the 24th of July ; in 1881 on 
the 19th; but in 1882 as early as the night between the 7th and 
8th of the same month. In 1883 very violent west winds with 
rain prevailed throughout the whole of July and during the first 
week of August, and accordingly not a single bird, either of this or 
any other species, was seen. During the night between the 6th and 
7 th of August the wind changed to a light south-east. This was 
followed forthwith by the appearance of numerous species, includ- 
ing Wheatears, all, however, only in small numbers ; this paucity 
was accounted for by the subsequent change of the wind to the 
west, from which direction it continued to blow, amid many down- 
pours of rain, until the 13th. From the 14th to the 23rd light 
southerly, south-easterly, and easterly winds prevailed, the weather 
being fine and warm. During the whole of this time young 
AVheatears, and other species due at this particular period, migrated 
in great quantities. 

The regular migration of the young Wheatears does not, how- 
ever, begin until the last week in July, and from that time onwards 
thousands of these birds arrive here daily. Such, among other 
instances, was the case in 1880 on the 24th of July, and on the 
4th, 5th, 6th, 11th, 12th, etc., of August. This regular migration 
of young birds continues until the middle of September or even 
somewhat later, after Avhicli time it gradually decreases until its 
close. 

The older birds of this species are seen in much smaller num- 
bers during the autumn migration: probably the majority of them 
fly across the island during the night without breaking their 
journey. Their proper migration time is October, but scattered 
examples in the blue-grey plumage make their appearance as early 
as September ; thus, among forty-five birds of this species, caught 
at the lighthouse lantern on the night of the 1st September 1881, 
seven were old birds ; and among forty-six, on the night of the 4th, 
thirteen were old individuals, all the rest, in both cases, consisting 
of young birds of the year. In 1880 the first old bird was seen on 
the 10th of October, and in 1882, on the 4th of the same month. 

The migrations of the Pied Flycatcher, the Redstart, the Willow 
Warbler, the Whinchat, the Ortolan Bunting, and many other 
species proceed in exactly the same manner — in fact, the data 
given above for the Wheatear will apply with almost equal force 
for aU these species, except that the Willow Warbler is the first 



ORDER OF MIGRATION ACCORDING TO AGE AND SEX 105 

to make its appearance — the Redstart and Ortolan Bunting, in 
most cases, not appearing until a fortnight later. 

The young birds of the Willow Warbler, whose migration com- 
mences early in July — I have even obtained a very yellow young 
individual of this species on the 30th of June — are joined at the 
end of August by the older paler-coloured individuals ; in the case of 
the Redstart, however, the young of which rarely arrive before the 
expiration of the first week in August, the old birds follow some- 
what earlier; thus, among thirty-six individuals of this species, 
caught on the night of 4th of September 1881, there were already 
as many as eleven old birds. On the previous day I had made the 
following entry in my diary : — Wheatear, one-third of number of 
individuals, old birds ; Redstart, one-half old birds : Ortolans, very 
numerous — about one-quarter of their number old birds, being the 
first old individuals seen during the migration. 

It should be noted here, as a fact of some interest, that the few 
old individuals found among the Wheatears and Redstarts, caught 
on the night of the 4th September, as mentioned above, did not 
arrive until late after midnight, probably between three and four 
in the morning, whereas the young birds had already started on 
their migration in large numbers some hours before midnight. 
I am not, however, at present in a position to say whether this 
order of arrival will prove to be the rule, though I have found it to 
hold good in repeated instances. 

The young Sparrowhawks commence their migration at the end 
of the first week of August, and from that date on appear daily 
in greater or smaller numbers, while the first old bird, in 1880, 
was seen on the 29th of September; in 1881, on the 22nd of 
the same month; and in 1883, on the 4th of October. Of the 
Peregrine Falcon and the White-tailed Eagle, the young birds arrive 
at the end of August, but the old ones rarely before October. 

As in the case of the Starlings, solitary old examples of the 
Golden Plover, in much-worn plumage, also made their appearance 
before the young had commenced their migration. This, however, 
as will be explained further on, is due to other causes than those 
which operate in the case of the Starlings. 

The first young Golden Plovers arrive here as early as the 
beginning of July ; thus, on the 4th of July 1880, about twenty indi- 
viduals were observed ; after that birds occurred singly up to the 
23rd of the month. On the 4th, .5th, 6th, and 10th of August they 
arrived in small flights, and on the 12th, in a flock of about a 
hundred individuals. These young birds are so utterly devoid of 
shyness that the majority of them are almost always shot, all 
doubts as regards their age being in this manner set aside. The 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

thick heel-joint, as well as the preponderance of yellow in their 
plumage, are unmistakable signs of their youth ; in some of them, 
indeed, the tips of the feathers of the back of the head still have 
adhering to them the small appendages of the downy nestling 
plumage. None of these flights of young birds are accompanied 
by old individuals. Old Golden Plovers do not arrive until October, 
and even then not very numerously, for most of them tarry in the 
north or east until they are driven off by the advent of wintry 
weather. At such times, however, they fly across the island in 
thousands during dark December nights, without halting on their 
journey. 

The Blackbird, again, is another species in the case of which 
the time of migration in respect to age and sex can be determined 
with the utmost exactness by reason of the difference between their 
early and adult plumages. The young reddish-brown birds, with 
which the migration commences, rarely make their appearance 
before the middle of October; the old black males defer their 
arrival until November, and of these latter, again, the last to arrive, 
some weeks later, are the beautiful glossy black individuals with 
orange-j'ellow bills. 

Hundreds of similar instances misrht be brought forward, all of 
which will be discussed in their place under the headings of the 
respective species to which they refer. We cannot, however, omit 
to mention one other instance relating to a species the home of 
which is somewhat farther removed from Heligoland than those of 
the species already discussed. We refer to Richard's Pipit, from far- 
distant Daiiria. Under very favourable conditions of weather, I 
have, on several occasions, met with j'oung birds of this species 
almost entirely in their young light-bordered plumage, as early 
as the end of August. September and October are, however, the 
proper migration-months of these young birds, in the course of 
which the early dress is gradually replaced by the olivaceous brown 
early-winter plumage. Old birds in beautiful rust-coloured plumage 
never appear here before the end of October, continuing during 
the first half of November. The number of such individuals in the 
course of the autunm migration is, however, invariably a very 
limited one. The rule just established in reference to the order of 
migration does not include certain solitary exceptions. These 
however in the present case by no means discharge the important 
function which it is sought to attach to them, viz. the leadership 
of the young birds during their migration flights. To such excep- 
tions belong the few old Starlings previously mentioned, which are 
seen here almost every summer some two or three weeks before 
the arrival of the flocks of tli^usands of young birds. The pro- 



ORDER OF MIGRATION ACCORDING TO AGE AND SEX 107 

bable cause of their occurrence has been ah-eady indicated above. 
Another exception of the same kind occurs in the case of the 
Golden Plover, also referred to above, solitary old individuals 
of which species are likewise seen here long before the commence- 
ment of the autumn migration of the young birds. 

It is of course po.ssible that among these birds there may be some 
individual or other of which the brood has perished, though it 
seems more probable that they belong to the numerous shore-birds 
which, during the summer months, roam around the islands, coasts, 
and estuaries of the North Sea. Such birds — though almost all of 
them are old individuals, and in full breeding plumage — have 
nevertheless made no attempt at breeding ; and they thus terminate 
an irregular and aimless existence during the spring and summer by 
an equally irregular migration in autumn. To these belong, more 
especially, the Grey Plover, the Bar-tailed Godwit, the Oyster- 
catcher, the Curlew, the Whimbrel, the Knot, the Dunlin, and the 
Sanderling, and, more rarely, some one or another species of Totanus. 

Collett, in regard to this phenomenon, says, that whenever he 
visited, during the summer months, the most southern extremity of 
Norway, he met there either large flocks or single individuals of 
the above-named species, which remained there the whole summer, 
for the most jjart wearing their full breeding garb — that they 
awaited the arrival there of the flocks proceedmg in August from 
the north, and then travelled in their company to the south 
{Joiirmd fur Omithologie, July 1881). Collett thinks that these 
may prove to be individuals not j^et endowed with reproductive 
capacities ; to this view however is opposed the fact that the majority 
of such birds — at least as far as they have been killed here — are old 
individuals in the purest and most beautiful breeding plumage. 

Solitary individuals of the species of Sandpipers enumerated 
above, in much worn and faded breeding plumage, occur regularly 
durmg July and at the beginning of August, arriving, sometimes 
before the young birds, sometimes simultaneously with them, 
though never in their company. The true autumn migration of 
such old individuals as have really bred in the far north or east, 
does not however commence until the beginning of the winter 
months, at which period of the year these old birds are clad 
regularlj' in their complete winter plumage, not excepting even the 
old Golden Plovers, which pass through here in October. 

All the migrants which pass this island in the autumn have, with 
some isolated exceptions, their plumage perfectly developed in 
every part. The few exceptions to this rule are solitary old indivi- 
duals of the Peregrine Falcon, as well as a few other large birds of 
pre3^ Besides these, the only actual instances with which I am 



108 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

acquainted are those of Richard's Pipit and the solitary examples 
of the Tawny Pipit {Anthus ccvmpedris), which occur here at the 
end of August. Solitary old birds of the Knot and the SanderHng, 
in the stage preceding the winter moult, likewise occur here during 
Autrust. These however I regard as individuals who have 
altogether failed to visit their breeding stations in the course of 
the summer, and hence do not occupy a normal position in the 
migratory process generally. 

In the retarded autumn moult of these old breeding birds we 
have in fact the cause of their delayed migration. They only 
begin to moult after they have done rearing their young, by which 
time the latter have their organs of flight so far develoi^ed as to be 
almost, if not completely, capable of undertaking their first autumn 
migration. Their parents, on the other hand, are obliged to tarry 
in their summer quarters until their new plumage also has been 
completed. 

In regard to the difference of the time of migration of young 
and old birds, I may be allowed to add a few remarks from an 
excellent book, viz. Rodd's Birds of Cornwall and the Scilly 
Islands. Speaking of the Knot, the author, in the work in 
question, states as follows, on p. 101 : ' I have also noticed that the 
first flocks of these migratory Sandpipers, which usually arrive about 
the second week of August, are almost entirely composed of young 
birds. The old birds arrive somewhat later.' In regard to the 
Woodcock, the same work contains (Introduction, p. xv.) a passage 
from an essay of the Hon. Francis Roberts, printed in London in 
1708, which, though not written with the object of proving the 
difl'erence of the time of migration of old and young birds, never- 
theless fulfils this purpose in an admirable manner. The passage 
in question runs as follows : ' When it first comes its flesh is short 
and tender, whereas afterwards it eats stringy, and of a fibrous flesh, 
as others of our fowls are.' This interesting observation, made 
one hundred and eighty years ago, gives the clearest evidence of 
the earlier migration of young birds as compared with that of their 
parents ; for it is evident that by birds of short and tender flesh we 
must understand the young ones, while, under stringy and fibrous, 
the old ones arc naturally indicated. 

The extracts from my ornithological journal, as given above, 
besides the observations of other ornithologists here cited, to each 
of which sources of information much further material might be 
added, should sufiice to establish beyond any doubt what has been 
said as to the difference of time of the autumn migration of J'oung 
and old birds. It is however impossible that the phenomena as 
observed in Heligoland should be limited exclusively to this island. 



ORDER OF MIGRATION ACCORDING TO AGE AND SEX 109 

Altliough on the Continent, with its forests and mountains, investi- 
gation of migration phenomena of this kind must be incomparably 
more ditiicult, more especially as these become complicated with 
every degree of latitude further south, yet careful and critical 
observations should enable us to recognise them without difficulty, 
in the case of species ditiering so markedly in the colours of their 
early and adult plumages as Starlings, Blackbirds, Redstarts, Chats, 
and many others. 

Thus the number of young birds of species which, besides 
breeding in northern latitudes, do so also in Germany and England, 
must, in these countries, of necessity undergo a very considerable 
increase at the beginning of the migi-ation. Even if the young 
birds bred in these countries had already left before the arrival of 
the new immigrants, the quantity of the latter would still be far in 
excess of the former, no matter whether it was made up of indivi- 
duals from the north or from the east. My old friend and opposite 
neighbour on the east coast of England, John Cordeaux, has indeed 
foimd this view fully confirmed in the case of the Chats and Red- 
starts. 

Careful observation will probably everywhere bring into recogni- 
tion the original character of the autumn migration, in the more 
numerous arrivals of young birds at its beginning, and the pre- 
dominance of old individuals at its close. Or, again, this character 
will express itself, as, for instance, in central and southern Ger- 
many, by the stay of the old birds of many species within the 
circuit of their breeding area, and the departure of birds of the 
same species bred in those districts, and the passage of those young 
birds of the species which have been bred in regions further north. 

A similar difference in the time of migration of old and young 
birds has been noted in regard to the Blackbird within Xaumann's 
area of observation. In regard to this species the great ornithologist 
says (vol. ii. p. 331), that of those individuals which breed in pine 
woods, containing juniper bushes, the old do not depart at the end 
of the breeding season, but that those which breed in leafy woods, 
in the winter leave for localities which afford them suitable nourish- 
ment; and that the young of all, on the other hand, no matter 
under what surroundings they are bred, depart in September and 
October; that the old birds were already back at their breeding 
stations as early as the beginning of March, whereas the young 
birds did not return until the end of the month. 

However, in these latitudes, among those species in which the 
old birds migrate like the rest, the first to leave unnoticed will 
be the 3'oung individuals which have been bred on the spot, their 
place being taken by other young birds which have been bred in 



no THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

more northern latitudes. Some of these latter, however, arrive so 
late in the southern area, that the old birds which have hitherto 
tarried there will have begun to depart at the time when the 
migration of the young individuals from the north is about to 
terminate. Hence it results, in these southern latitudes, that old 
and young birds, having no relation of kinship with each other, are 
nevertheless seen to migrate at the same time. Last of all, forming 
the rear-guard of the migration of the particular area, there will 
pass the old birds whose breeding haunts are in the extreme north, 
individuals whose late appearance Naumann endeavoured to explain 
by assuming that they had been detained by accidents or mishaps 
of various kinds. 

Hence the course of the spring migration, as detailed above, 
actually supplies proofs, such as one might logically expect to 
follow from what we have stated, in regard to the order in which 
the autumn migration of birds proceeds, because — in the spring, 
in the case of all species, the most handsome old birds are 
invariably the first to hasten back to the old homes, as the heralds 
of reawakening life ; these are soon joined by old females, whose 
numbers increase, while those of the males decline, and the 
migration is brought to a close by the younger birds. 

There follows, howevei', in the wake of the main body of 
migrants, an ii-regular rear-guard of weaklings and crippled indi- 
viduals, some with the toes of one foot wanting, others with the 
whole foot lost up to the joint, a rounded ball, with more or less 
hardened sole, being developed in its place. Others, agam, have 
lost a portion of their flight-feathers or of the rectrices. 

If among such a rear-guard of Thrushes, a fowler or collector 
happens to find an apparently very handsome male Blackbird, in 
glossy plumage and brilliant orange-yellow bill, or a King Ousel, 
with a very white breastband, he will regularly, on capturing 
such a speciinen, find proved what he was, in fact, convinced of 
before, viz. that the bird has either lost from six to nine of its 
rectrices, which have only been restored to half their length, or 
that the wings have suffered damage of a similar kind, which 
has not yet been completely repaired. 

Some Hooded Crows are seen occasionally in a truly pitiable 
condition, labouring, with scarcely half their wings left, to follow 
their companions, who have preceded them by as much as several 
weeks. It is singular how such a bird could lose so many of the 
flight-feathers of both wings, and sometimes indeed quite unin- 
telligible how it can still continue to fly with the few it has left. 

How hard an effort this is is clearly shown by the increased 
number of the strokes of its wings; notwithstanding, it slowly 



ORDER OF MIGRATION ACCORDING TO AGE AND SEX HI 

pursues its toilsome and lonely journey, with the blue skies above 
and the blue waters beneath it ; and while our eyes follow the 
lonely traveller, there arises within us the invohuitaiy reflection : 
How powerful must be the impulse from within, which urges on 
so abandoned a creature patiently to strive for a goal of which it 
can scarcely have a presentiment ' 

Although the early and independent autumn migration of the 
young birds had been hitherto quite withdrawn from recognition, 
this was by no means the case in regard to the early appearance of 
old males in spring. The reasons for this difference in the state of 
our laiowledge must be sought for, in both cases, in the nature of 
the phenomena themselves. At the close of summer all the dif- 
ferent species of birds not only appear simultaneously in enormous 
quantities, but in very many of them the autumn phniiage varies 
so little with differences of age, that it is necessary to have the 
bird actually in one's hands in order to determine to what stage of 
life it belongs. In spring, on the other hand, the number of 
migi-ants which come under observation is in itself a much less 
considerable one, because, as a rule, one sees almost only such birds 
as are residents within the area of observation, those belonging to 
northern or eastern bi'eeding-stations passing overhead unobserved 
at night; and also because the vanguard of the migratory train 
consists exclusively of old males, which are not only very easily 
recognised by the colour of their plumage, but also at once pro- 
claim their sex and age by their song or their call-notes. 

Naumann, of course, furnishes numerous proofs for what has 
been said above, one of which has already been mentioned in con- 
nection with the autumn migration of the Blackbird. Faber states 
{Life of High Northern i?m7s, pp. 33 and 114)' that in Iceland, as well 
as in Denmark, the males of song-birds, at least in spring, arrive 
before the females ; but he doubts whether the same may be the 
case with waders and natatorial birds. As fivr as my o^vn experiences 
go, tlie first arrivals of Dotterels and Ringed Plovers in Heli- 
goland are invariably males. Similar observations might be 
collected from many older works. In more recent times Seebohm's 
two highly interesting journeys, in 1875, to the mouth of the 
Petchora, and, in 1877, down the Jenesei, from Jeneseisk to the 
Arctic Ocean, have shown that in these high latitudes also, the 
males are the first to arrive in spring. Thus, in regard to the 
Snow Bunting, the author says {Siberia in Europe, p. 81) : ' When 
we first met with the flocks of Snow Buntings, we found them to 
consist principally of males, but as the season advanced the females 
largely predominated.' 

1 Leben hochnonlincher VOyel, pp. 33 and 114. 



112 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Ibid. -p. 91.— 'The Shore Larks had ah-eady (12th May) been 
some days in Ust-Zylma. and by this time were in large and small 
flocks, in the fields, on both sides of the town. All those we shot 
proved to he males.' 

Ibid. p. 102. — 'Flocks of Shore Larks had by this time (19th 
May) become more numerous, and consisted of males and females 
in nearly equal numbers.' 

Ibid. p. 132. — ' I shot (30th Jlay) the strange songster, and 
brought down my first Little Bunting.' 

Und. p. 153. — 'I shot the little songster (7th June), and it 
proved to be a male Scarlet Bullfinch {Carpodacus erythrmus).' 

Wheelwright (Ten Years in Sweden, pp. 331 and 332) says, in 
regard to the Shore Lark, that, of fifty of the earliest spring arrivals 
shot at Quiekjock, in Lapland, there was found 'strange to say'(!!) 
only one female bird. 

Here in Heligoland the forerunners of the spring migration are 
invariabl}' old males ; a week or two later, solitary old females 
make their appearance ; and after several weeks, both sexes occur 
mixed, i.e. females and younger males ; Avhile, finally, only young 
birds of the previous year are met with. The males arriving 
earliest during the commencement of the migration are invariably 
the handsomest examples, in perfect plumage. For instance, in the 
case of the Ring Ousel, the first examples have invariably pure white 
breastbands ; while almost all the examples of the Northern Blue- 
throat, obtained during the first week of their spring migration, are 
old males in which, in addition to the other blue-coloured parts, 
the lores also are suffused with blue. 

Similar features are brought to light in the case of the Pied 
Wagtail. The vanguard of its migratory host in spring is always 
composed of old males, in which not only the whole of the back 
and throat are glossy black, but in which also, the sides of the 
breast and the flanks are of a deep black colour. The same jjerfect 
coloration is met with in the case of the first arrivals of the 
Pied Flycatchers, the Common and Black Redstarts, the three 
species of Yellow Wagtails, and, in fact, in the case of all other 
migrants which pass the island — though naturally, in the case 
of many species whose plumage is less conspicuous, differences 
of age and sex can only be discerned if the birds are in closest 
proximity to the observer. 

All these phenomena are displayed so clearly on this island, 
that they are known to every gunner and fowler as well as, and 
indeed sometimes better than, his alphabet. Nay, even the boy who 
rejoices in the pos.session of his first blowpipe is so well versed in 
these said phenomena as, for instance, to know perfectly well that as 



ORDER OF MIGRATION ACCORDING TO AGE AND SEX 113 

long as no Yellow-billed Blackbirds are seen in autumn, the Thrush 
season is still in a fair way. 

Seeing that all the statements about the sequence of migra- 
tion in regard to age, sex, and season, set forth in this chapter, 
not only deviate considerably from the views hitherto entertained 
on this subject, but in many cases are entirely opposed to such 
views, we would remark in conclusion that, in what has been said 
above, every erroneous notion or possible insufficiency of observa- 
tion has been most positively excluded. When one has been 
employed for nearly fifty years in a place like Heligoland in 
putting together a collection of the most perfect specimens obtain- 
able, he ought at least to be credited with the j^ossession of a sure 
knowledge of the exact seasons of the year when this or that 
particular plumage may be looked for. 




VII. EXCEPTIONAL MIGRATION 
PHENOMENA 

The occurrence within a particular district of unusual, or more or 
less rare, visitors, belonging to a totally distinct avifauna, and gener- 
ally known under the name of ' casual visitants,' is a fact which 
has hitherto not received a due amount of attention, owing to our 
having remained unacquainted with the laws by which these pheno- 
mena, like others connected with migration, are unquestionably 
regulated. 

In regard to this question, Heligoland provides material of 
paramount importance, both bj^ reason of the unexampled number 
of such interesting strangers from all countries of the northern 
hemisphere occurring on the island, and also because of the fact of 
their appearing in such quantities within so limited an area, giving 
proof of the incomj^arably larger numbers of these rare birds which 
must annually pass through the whole of the European continent. 

It is remarkable how much our views on such exceptional 
phenomena have changed from those which prevailed some twenty 
years ago. At that time, the report of each new stranger shot here 
used to arouse the most joyful sensation among ornithologists; 
whereas, subsequently, the views were expressed from manj- sides 
that ' casual visitants ' of this kind had no scientific significance 
whatever. 

Such a change in the manner of looking at this question can, 
however, only be ascribed to the insuthcient amount of attention 
devoted to the subject. This neglect was itself undoubtedly the 
outcome of the traditional error, according to which these strangers 
were, as a rule, simple and inexperienced young autumn birds 
which had either been driven out of their normal course by storms, 
or were wandering about the world at haphazard ; and individuals, 
it was held, which had thus been blown about casually by the wind 
to one place or another were, of course, not deserving of any further 
attention. 

With this view my own experience of many years is most 



EXCEPTIONAL MIGRATION PHENOMEMA 115 

decidedly at variance. la the first place, a large portion of the 
rare visitors which occur here are not j'oiing and inexperienced 
birds, but old individuals. This is the case with the ma,jority of 
individuals which belong to species originating from regions far 
to the south-east and south-south-east of this island. 

Thus, in the case of the Black-headed Bunting {Emberiza 
nielanocephala), I have obtained twelve old examples as against 
two young summer birds : and, in the case of the Eastern Pied Chat 
(Saxicola morio), the Black-eared Chat (<S'. aurita), and the Desert 
Chat (S. deserti), two old examples of each species as against one 
young bird of the last-named species only. Again, almost all the 
examples of the Rose-coloured Starlings which have occurred here 
were old birds ; and so on. 

No more do the conditions under which such migrants make 
their appearance aflmit of the conclusion that these movements 
are merely of a roving or blundering kind, without definite plan or 
aim. On the contrary, we are obliged to assume that these move- 
ments, also, are ah initio dependent on definite laws or causes of a 
recurring kind, seeing that species from different quarters of the 
globe arrive here at correspondingly different seasons of the year, 
each species rigidly adhering to its own particular period, viz. 
eastern and north-eastern species in autumn, and those from the 
south-east and south in spring. Nor do these acting causes confine 
their influence to isolated individuals, but on the other hand assert 
themselves to such a degree in the case of all kinds of different 
species, that one may not rarely see together on one and the same 
day, on this little rock, species of different genera, whose breed- 
ing homes are situated nearly a thousand miles away in eastern 
Asia; each species, moreover, being frequently represented by as 
many as two or three examples. 

As I think that it may be of interest to adduce instances of this 
nature, I may, perhaps, be allowed to quote the following extracts 
from my journal: — 

1860. June 18.- — Charadrius fnlinis and Emberiza nielanocephala. 

186 1. Oct. 10. — Sylvia superciliosa. Thi'ee examples together in a willow. 

1863. Oct. 9. — Sylvia supercillosa and Emberiza rustica. 

1864. June 12. — Syliia (Acrocephala) agrirola and .S'. (liulicilla) mesoleuca. 

Both new to Heligoland and Germany. 
,, Oct. 4. — Turdus varius and S. superciliosa. Two examples of 
the latter species. 
1867. May 9. — Emberiza aesia and Saxicola murio. 

„ Sept. 19. — <S'. superciliosa, two examples, and Emberiza pusilla. 
1870. „ 19. — Sylvia superciliosa and Emberiza rustica. 



116 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

1875. Sept. 17. — Emheriza pusilla ; Anthus cervinus and .S'. mperciliosa. 
Two examples of latter species. 

1879. May 26. — Falm eleomrm and Alaiula pisj'oh'tta. Both new to 

Heligoland and German}'. 
„ Sept. 27. — E. jmsilla, two ; E. rustica, one ; and E. aureola. 
,, ,, 28. — E. ^niaiUa and E. rustica. 

„ Oct. 8. — S. reguloides, E. rustica, two to three examples ; 

E. pusilla ; Anthus ceri'imis and Alavda alpestris, 

the latter in flocks of hundreds. 
„ ,, 10. — E . rustica zxiA imsilla. 

„ „ 14. — S. stiperciliosa, two examples. 

1880. June 23. — Saxicula dcserti and Papilio podalirius. 

„ Sept. 26. — Sylvia superciliosa, E. pusilla, and Muscicapa parva. 

,, ,, 30. — E. pmsilla, Sylvia tristis, and S. suj)erciliosa. 

„ Oct. 10. — Turdus fuscafus. A day afterwards, .E". p!ts7Z(i. 

I must further make special mention of the 1st of October 
1869, on which day there occurred on the island the Little Bunt- 
ing, Red-throated Pipit {Anthus cervinus), two examples; the 
Red-breasted Flycatcher, three examples ; White's Thrush and 
Yellow-browed Warbler. 

On the day following I obtained Turdus swainsoni, which latter 
likewise no doubt reached this island by an east-to-west route of 
migration. The occiu'rences euimierated above were almost always 
accompanied by larger or smaller numbers of Richard's Pipit. 

In the enumeration of these birds mention has also been made 
of a butterfly, Papilio podalirius. This insect, as is well known, 
only in rare cases advances beyond northern Germany, and on this 
island also had been seen on only one previous occasion. There 
can therefore be no doubt that the same atmospheric conditions 
which favoured the journey hither of the Desert Ghat from the 
south, in comiJany with which it arrived on the same day, also 
induced this lighter-winyed stranger to wander across the sea. 
That Lepidoptera during their more extended flights are subject to 
the same meteorological influences as birds I have been convinced 
by the experience of many nights in July, during which I have 
caught numerous nocturnal Lepidoptera not belonging to our insect- 
fauna, the weather of these nights being invariably such that, if it 
had occurred a few weeks later, it would have conducted hither 
innumerable Wheatears. It has, in fact, occurred repeatedly that 
Lepidoptera, especially night-flj'ing species, have passed over this 
island in countless swarms at the time of powerful bird-migrations. 
Thus, during the night of the 25th of October 1872, thousands of 
Hybernia defoliwrict, mixed with smaller numbers of H. auran- 
tiaria, passed over the island in the company of large numbers of 



EXCEPTIONAL MIGRATION PHENOMENA 117 

Larks. And again, in the night of the 11th of October 1883, during 
which an unusually strong migration of all the sjiecies of birds due 
at that time took place, this was accompanied by the appearance 
of very large swarms of the same species of Hybernia. 

White Cabbage Butterflies,tho Black Arches, Psihira vionacka, 
and also Libellulidiv, LUidlula quadfipuvctata, have been seen 
to pass here in migratory flights of astonishing proportions, though 
even these do not come ujj to those of Plusia gamina, which on 
repeated occasions have occurred in numbers of which it would 
be quite impossible to form any conception. Thus, during the 
nights from the 15th to the 19th of August, under the favour- 
able conditions of a south-easterly wind and fair weather, a con- 
siderable migration of birds took place. On each of these nights, 
from 11 P.M. to 3 a.m., the small Noctuje above referred to 
were seen at the lighthouse, passing from east to west in undi- 
minishing numbers, like the flakes of a dense snowstorm. These 
, small creatures also manage to cross the North Sea in safety, for 
they often arrive on the east coast of England suddenly, and in 
such remarkable numbers, that we can only believe them to be 
immigrants. In fact, as my friend John Cordeaux informs me, an 
enormous accumulation of these insects actually took place at a 
time corresponding to that of tlie above observations. 

Returning, however, to the subject of the present chapter ; it is 
the residents of the far east of Asia which, if not in the number of 
species, yet at any rate in that of individuals, must claim our first 
attention. Even if the Richard's Pipit can no longer be regarded 
among the rare occurrences of Heligoland, this still applies to the 
Yellow-browed Warbler and the Little Bunting, of each of which 
species some thirty freshly-killed specimens have passed through 
my hands, whilst at least double that number has been observed 
here within the last forty years. AVhite's Thrush I have obtained 
on five occasions ; this splendid thrush having, before my time, 
come five or six times into the hands of Brand of Hamburg. The 
Rustic Bunting I have obtained nine times, and the Yellow-breasted 
Bunting (E. aureola) three times. Besides these, the following birds 
have been killed here in one or two instances : — The Red-throated 
Thrush (Turdus ruficollis), the Black-throated Thrush (T. atri- 
gidaris), and the Dusky Siberian Thrush (T.fuscatus): the Siberian 
Chiffchaff {Sylvia tristis), Dusky Willow- Warbler {S. fuscata), 
S. viridana, S. borecdis, S. nitida, S. coronata, S. proregidus, 
Booted Wai-bler {S. salicaria), and Pallas' Warbler (S. certliiola) ; 
also Pyrrlnda rosea, Cinchis pallasi. To these may, 2>erhaps, be 
added one or two other species of those already mentioned ; Sylvia 
viridana has actually been killed on three occasions. 



118 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

About two-thirds of these Eastern species consist of young 
birds, whose occurrence here, ahiiost without exception, in autumn, 
is just what one might expect from the nature of things, inasmuch 
as it is self-evident that young birds of all sj^ecies must, during the 
autumn migration, bo represented in much larger numbers than 
old individuals can be. 

A list as extensive as that given above would, one might expect, 
be in itself sufficient to contradict the assumption that these excep- 
tional occurrences are the result of a straj'ing on the part of the 
birds in question from the normal track of their migratory journey ; 
and this more especially when we consider, as we are undeniably 
entitled to do, that the large number of individuals of species from 
far eastern re^'ions, which are met with in Heligoland, must stand to 
the quantity of these erratics passing through the whole of Central 
Euroj^e every autumn, in the same relation as the size of this island 
does to that of the Continent. Accordingly, if in Heligoland alone 
from eighty to a hundred examples of the Small Yellow-browed 
Warbler have been seen during a number of j'ears, what an 
enormous nvnnber of these birds must have visited the whole of 
Germany during the same period. Again, if twenty, fifty, or even 
a hundred examples of Richard's Pipit occur here in one day, 
these numbers can only represent a minute fraction of the quite 
incomputable quantit}' of these birds which are travelling at the 
same period from Daiiria to Western Europe. 

Moreover, inasmuch as these birds do not occur in-egularly at 
all times of the year, but regularly dming the normal autunni 
passage of the majority of species migrating from east to west, 
we cannot do otherwise than assume that many individuals of such 
Eastern species which, in autuiim, to a predominating extent, 
migrate in a southern direction, are induced by annually recurring 
causes to travel westwards, instead of passing on to their normal 
winter quarters. As already mentioned, their number is too large, 
and their appearance too regular, to allow of its being ascribed to 
accident. 

Large, however, as is the number of individuals of these visitors 
to Heligoland from the far East, it is nevertheless exceeded in 
regard to the number of species represented, by that of birds whose 
homes are situated in countries far to the south-east and south- 
south-east of this island, viz. Greece, Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, and 
as far as Turkestan. As already stated, this increase in the number 
of species is balanced by a decrease in the number of individuals. 
The collector, however, is amply compensated by the fact that more 
than three-fourths of the birds are handsome old males in breeding 
j^lumage. Thisdatter fact is'determincd partly by the time of the 



EXCEPTIONAL MIGRATION PHENOMENA 119 

year at which these birds make their appearance — i.e. almost excki- 
sively in June and July — partly by the motive which prompts their 
migratory flight. 

When we consider the time of their appearance, and the fact 
that they are, almost without exception, old breeding birds, we may 
perhaps, as already intimated above, not have far to seek for the 
motive which prompts these south-eastern species to take up anew 
their migratory journe}-. at a time when their spring migration 
ought to be at an end ; and thereafter to continue it in the same 
north-north-westerly and north-westerly direction which had been 
pursued by them during the latter movement. The only explana- 
tion of this irregularity may probablj' be found in the assumption, 
that all such summer visitors are individuals which have lost their 
spouses during the earlier stages of the breeding season, and which 
have then sought to satisfy the persistent impulse towards accom- 
plishing the act of propagation, by proceeding farther in the same 
direction which they had previously pursued during the said spring 
migration. This view derives considerable support fi-om the fact 
that most of these birds are old males, who are less exposed to the 
risk of falling victims to birds of prey than the females, since the 
latter, while sitting on the nests, engaged either in laying or hatch- 
ing their eggs, are much more liable to meet with a fate of this 
description. 

A consideration of the regions which are inhabited by these 
species durmg the summer and winter months absolves us from 
the necessity of furnishing a proof of the fact that their spring 
migration proceeds in a north-westerly direction ; nevertheless, in 
regard to such of these species as occur more numerously, a few 
mstances, such as the following, may be brought in evidence. 
The Rose-coloured Starling, which in favourable weather is seen 
here almost every summer, breeds very numerously in Asia Minor, 
the Crimea, and the Caucasus, and winters in mj'riads in the east of 
India. The Black-headed Bunting {Emheriza melanocej)hala), 
which I have obtained here about fifteen times, nests in Greece and 
Turkey and Asia Minor, and has its winter quarters in the east of 
India. In the case of the Short-toed Lark, which I have handled in 
the fresh state from forty to sixty times, though its breeding range 
extends too far west to be of much value to the question under 
discussion, there can nevertheless be little doubt that the examples 
which have occurred here from the middle of May to July origin- 
ated from Greece and the neighbouring districts. I have, however, 
also obtained various examples of this small Lark in completely 
moulted plumage during the autumn migration, which, considered 
in the light of analogous occurrences, could only have reached 



120 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

this island by a flight from east to west ; hence it follows that this 
species must be distributed, even if only locally and irregularly-, 
throughout European and Asiatic Russia, as far north as the latitude 
of Heligoland. Strange to say, solitary individuals of this bird have 
made their appearance in Heligoland as late as November. 

The following is a list of south-eastern species which have 
occurred here during the period over which my observations on 
this island extend : — Eleonora Falcon, Red-footed Falcon, Lesser 
Kestrel, Rose-coloured Starling, Ixos xanthopygos ; Ehrenberg's 
Redstart (Sylvia viesoleuca) ; Rufous Warbler (S. galactodes) ; 
Orphean Warbler {S. orphea) ; Olivaceous Warbler (S. olivacea) ; 
<S^. pallida, and Paddy-field Warbler ((S'. agricola); Black-eared 
Chat (Saxicola aurita) ; Russet Chat (S. stapazina) ; Desert Chat 
(.S'. deserti) ; and Eastern Pied Chat (S. niorio) ; Calandra Lark, 
Black Lark {A. tatarica); Short-toed Lark (A. hraehydadyla): 
and PaUas' Short-toed Lark {A. pispoletta) ; Black-headed Bunt- 
ing {Eniberiza melanocephala), E. luteola, Cirl Bunting, Meadow 
Bunting (E. cia), Cretzschmar's Bunting (E. ca'sia), and Large- 
billed Reed Bunting {E. pyrrlndoides); Marsh Sandpiper (Totanus 
stagnatilis) ; Black-winged Stilt, and perhaps some few others. 

The majoi'ity of these wayfarers, with the exception of those 
mentioned previously, have only been observed here once. The 
Desert Wheatear I have obtained three times, the Black-eared Chat 
and Eastern Pied Chat, each on two occasions. 

Turning next to species whose homes lie far to the south of this 
island, as in North or Central Africa, it is surprising to find what a 
sudden difterence in the appearance of rare occurrences results 
from a change of geographical situation, amounting to no more than 
a few points of the compass. Contrary to the unexampled richness, 
both as regards number of species and individuals, by which 
countries far to the east and south-east of this island are represented 
here, we are confronted with the greatest dearth, of both species 
and individuals, which belong to more southerly situated areas. 
Of pre-eminently African birds, only seven can be recorded as 
distinguished visitors to this i.sland, each of these, moreover, being 
represented by only one example. They are the Banner {Fcdco 
tanypterus) ; the Moussier's Redstart {Sylvia {ruticiUa) Mous- 
sieri); Egyptian Goatsucker {Caprimulgits arenicolor) ; the Bee- 
eater, the Cream-coloured Courser, the Glossy Ibis, and the 
Demoiselle Crane. This restricted appearance of southern species 
in Heligoland becomes the more singular when compared with the 
number of the same birds which have occurred in England. 

Thus, the Bee-eater visits England so abundantly that Harting 
(Handbook of British Birds) no longer mentions it among the excep- 
tional occurrences, but allots a place to it among the regular 



EXCEPTIONAL MIGEATION PHENOMENA 121 

summer visitants. Saunders (Yarrell, British Birds, 1881) says 
that more than thirty of these birds have been killed in Great 
Eritain, and four in Ireland. Twenty of them were seen in one 
day m Norfolk, and twelve were shot within the same period of 
time at Helston in Cornwall. 

The most remarkable occurrence, however, in this connection 
is that of the Cream-coloured Courser, a typically African sjjecies, of 
which Harting records nineteen instances in England. Next to these 
southern visitors to Heligoland must be considered, though within 
a somewhat narrower compass, a few interesting natives of the Swiss 
Alps. Thus, the Chough, and Alpine Chough (Corvus jyijrrhocorax), 
have each occurred a few times. The Alpine Accentor I have 
obtained three times, the bird having been observed on three other 
occasions besides. The Snow Finch (Fringilla nivalis) has occurred 
twice ; the Alpine Swift has once been shot, and observed on one 
other occasion. Among these we may perhaps also count the 
Blue Rock Thrush (Tiirdus cyanus) and the Rock Thrush (»S'. 
saxatilis), of whom the former has been killed here once, and the 
latter about six times. 

In regard to these species from districts much nearer to Heligo- 
land, the south of England again completely outstrips this island. 
Harting enumerates fourteen instances of the occurrence of the 
Alpine Accentor, and twenty of that of the Alpine Swift in his own 
country. Although it may not be difficult to find an explanation 
for the frequent occurrence of this species in England, one seeks in 
vain for reasons why natives of Central Africa, and more especially 
of Switzerland, should so rarely extend their migrations northwards 
to Germany and Heligoland. 

After what we have said as regards the summer excursions of 
species from the south-east of Europe and Asia Minor, we might 
presuppose that southern species — i.e. those resident in Spain and 
North-west Africa — would also be met with in comparative abun- 
dance in England, just as on the other side, the frequent occurrence 
of these latter species north of their breeding stations proves the 
conclusiveness of our assumption as to the causes which determine 
the appearance of south-eastern species in a north-westerly direction : 
like the birds from Greece and Asia Minor, which have been met 
with in districts so far to the north-west of their homes as 
Germany, Heligoland, and even the Shetland Islands, the numerous 
visitors to England from Spain and Africa are also individuals that 
have lost their pairing spouses during the earlier stages of the 
breeding season, and which then strive to satisfy the still persis- 
tent breeding impulse by continuing to follow the original direction 
of their spring migi-ation, — in their case, one to the north. The 
time of the appearance of these southern birds in England, taking 



122 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

place as it does principally in the months between May and August, 
iu a high degree supports this explanation of the phenomenon. 

Western Europe, which in order of sequence ought to be con- 
sidered next, is however so scantily represented in Heligoland 
that it is indeed hardly worthy of mention. During all the long 
years I have been zealously collecting, only three birds pre-emi- 
nently natives of that region have come under my hands, viz., the 
Melodious Willow Warbler {Sylvia 'pohjglotta), the Dartford Warbler 
(Sylvia provincialis), and the Black Chat (Sa.ricola leucura) — 
one example only having been obtained in the case of each of them, 
though it is extremely probable that in the case of the Dartford 
Warbler a second example was observed by Rej'mers. Thus, birds 
from the west of Europe seem as strongly disinclined to migrate 
eastward as, on the other hand, species from the far East exhibit 
a decided tendency to migrate towards the west. 

If we were justified in assuming that these exceptional occur- 
rences from far-distant countries are those of individuals roving 
about at haphazard, this rare occurrence of western species, as 
opposed to the abundant appearance of species coming from the east 
and south-east, would certainly appear very strange. As, however, 
the movements of almost all visitors of this kind are connected with 
certain definite conditions, it is quite probable that the cause of 
this rare advance of birds from the west of Europe beyond the 
limits of their homes, in an easterly direction, may yet be established. 
This has in fact already been done in regard to the frequent excur- 
sions of these birds in summer to countries situated to the north of 
their breeding stations. 

In Heligoland, inquiry in relation to this question will natur- 
ally be restricted to the birds of the Iberian Peninsula. The 
line of migration of these birds lies exclusively between north 
and south. They go in autumn to Africa, and return thence in 
spring. Any inclination on their part to deviate laterally from 
their normal migration-path in the same manner as species from 
the far East, is prevented on the one side by the Atlantic Ocean, 
while on the other side any attempt to migrate in an easterly 
direction would conduct them to cold instead of warm winter 
quarters. Their movements, accordingly, are more narrowly con- 
fined than those of any other residents of the Old Woi-ld, whence 
it results that we cannot really exj^ect to meet with Spanish birds 
anywhere east of the Pyrenees, either in autumn or spring. 

America, again, to which we ought next to direct our attention, is 
represented by a wonderful abundance of birds in Heligoland. The 
aversion which birds manifest for exceptional migrations to the east 
ceases at the western shores of the Old World. Up to the present 
the number of New World citizens which have visited this humble 



EXCEPTIONAL MIGRATION PHENOMENA 123 

rock amounts to fifteen, all of which, however, with the exception 
of two, are represented by only one example each. These are : 
TurJus sivainsoni ; j^'^Mxim, fuscescens, migratorius, lividus and 
rufus ; Sylvia virens ; Anthus ludovicianus, one old and one young 
example; DoUchonix oryzivora, twice, though one of the examples 
bears marks of having been in captivity at some time or other pre- 
viously; Charadrius virginicus ; Totanu^ macularms ; Tringa 
-j-u/f'sceD.s ; Larus bonaparfei, sabinii and rossii. Of the last 
species but one, two examples are in my collection, and it has been 
seen on two other occasions besides. Finall}^, a fine old male of 
the ^uri Scoter {Anas jierfjilcillata) has also been shot here once. 
Three-fourths of the birds above enumerated were old individuals. 
As one might expect from the facts just mentioned, England, also, 
has been visited by considerable numbers of American birds. The 
number of instances cited by Harting {Handbook of BritiKh Birds) 
amounts, up to the date of 1872, to two hundred and fifty-two 
individuals, belonging to forty-six species; in the most recent con- 
sideration of this subject (J. J. Dalgleish, in the Bulletin of the Nuttall 
Ornithological Club) the number given is a still larger one. Even 
after excluding all doubtful cases, such a,s Aidhus hulovicianus, the 
numerous instances of the occurrence of the Greenland Falcon, 
which is out of the question here, and leaving out of consideration 
the Petrels and West Indian and South Sea Terns, which are not 
pertinent to the present inquiry, there remain, even after a careful 
sifting like this, still two hundred and twenty-three instances for 
us to record. Strange to say, among the fifteen species observed 
in Heligoland, nine are not included in the above lists, and it is 
still more remarkable that, with the exception of the one example 
of the Migratory Thrush, caught at Dover in 1S77, not one other 
occurrence of any American thrush has been observed in England. 
Ought one, perhaps, to conclude from this that the American 
species which have visited Heligoland did not reach this island 
via England, but landed farther south on the coast of France ? 
The fact that many American thrushes have occurred on the Con- 
tinent in close proximity to this island lends support to this view. 
It stands to reason that if all the thrushes of this kind which have 
been observed in Heligoland and Germany had touched upon the 
shores of Ireland and England, some of them at least could not fail 
to have been remarked among the great bulk of other American 
birds observed in that country, especially Avhen we take into con- 
sideration that, besides the individual actually killed, a considerably 
larger number must have crossed over from America without 
having come under observation. 

The occurrence of so many American species on European soil 
involuntarily suggests the question as to the possible route by 



124 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

which these birds may have reached us from their distant homes. 
That they should have crossed that vast waste of waters — the 
Atlantic — was at first either disbelieved or only admitted with much 
reserve, mainly because it was considered quite impossible for a 
bird to sustain the uninterrupted flight of at least sixteen hundred 
geographical miles involved in such a journey. 

Instead of at once entering into the consideration as to the 
possibility of such a feat, it would perhaps be wiser to examine 
which of the two routes leading from America to Europe seems the 
more likely to be adopted by migrants — that to the east over the 
ocean, or, otherwise, the so-called overland route through Asia and 
eastern Europe. For this purpose a comparison of the lists of rare 
and exceptional occurrences in Germany, including Heligoland, with 
that of the similar occurrences in England, at one glance decides 
this question in a most convincing manner. Because, whereas 
Germany can show an imexampled number of Asiatic species, with 
only extremely isolated instances of American birds, England mar- 
shals a perfect flood of American species, and individuals among 
which only a few scattered visitors from Asia are found. These facts 
speak clearly enough ; it is impossible that two hundred and fifty 
birds should travel from America through Asia and the greater 
part of the continent of Europe to England without more than ten 
of their number being observed or killed in (iermany ; on the other 
hand, all the facts point to the conclusion that the birds reached 
the coasts of England direct by way of the Atlantic Ocean. Nor 
indeed could a large number of birds like that have travelled vid 
Greenland, Iceland, the Fseroes and Shetland, as one might have felt 
inclined to assume, without leaving behind them more extensive 
traces than it has been possible, in spite of all efforts, to demonstrate. 
It seems the more surprising that, instead of investigating the 
possibility of such a direct transmarine flight, people have so long 
objected to accept this view, since proofs of its actual occurrence 
have come to light frequently enough. Thus it has been long 
known as a common occurrence, that ships half way between 
Europe and America have fallen in with birds travelling, either 
singly or in flocks, in an easterly direction, migrants of this 
kind having not rarely attempted to alight upon the rigging, and 
some having also been caught there. A case of this kind is 
mentioned by Professor Alfred Newton (Yarrell, British Birds, 
fourth edition, ii. p. 220), according to which Dr. Dewar observed 
on his passage from America, about six hundred geographical miles 
east of Newfoundland, flocks of the Aiuerican White-winged Cross- 
bill crossing the Atlantic before a stiff' westerly breeze. Many of 
the flocks alighted on the rigging of the ship, and of these twelve 
examples were captured. One or two of the latter escaped as the 



EXCEPTIONAL MIGEATION PHENOMENA 125 

ship approached the Irish coast, and made straight for the land. 
Two others succeeded in escaping from their cage in the streets of 
Liverpool, and five were safely brought home. Professor Newton, 
in reference 'to this case, suggests the opinion that many other 
migrants may have been thus helped across the Atlantic by human 
aid ; with what success may be inferred from the American element 
in the list of so-called ' British ' birds. 

We cannot however reasonably admit that cases like that just 
instanced explain the passage of American migrants to Europe 
generally ; for, first of all, as opposed to the three or four birds which 
regained their liberty near the coast or in the streets of Liverpool, 
we must take into consideration the numerous Hocks which must 
have passed at the same period over one-half of the Atlantic with- 
out human assistance, and which certainly would not have retraced 
their course against the ' stiff westerly breeze ' prevailing at the 
time, but had probably reached the coast of Europe long before 
their imprisoned comrades. 

That amoncf the American birds which have been met with on 
this side the Atlantic, there are examples which, Hke the aforesaid 
Crossbills, have escaped from cages, cannot be doubted ; in fact 
we have already hinted at this in the case of the example oi Doli- 
chonix oryzivora shot here. The number of such birds, however, 
cannot be more than very insignificant. The simplest way of 
obtainitig a tolerably clear result in this respect is to subject the 
species of American birds which have occurred in England to a 
closer examination. 

We shall then find at once that just such of their number as 
specially commend themselves for the cage or aviary, either by 
reason of their song, or beauty of plumage, or for being easily 
sustained with food, are in an insignificantly small minority, while, 
on the other hand, waders, shore-birds, and aquatic birds are in a 
majority of ten times the nimiber of the first-named species. Now, 
these latter birds can only be obtained alive with very great diffi- 
culty, and would certainly not be kept in confinement otherwise 
than in rare and exceptional cases; consequently it is hardly likely 
that they would ever make a journey to Europe with the aid of 
human agency. 

The birds comprised in the first of these categories consist of the 
following species : Turdufi vi igratorius, Regul us calendula, Avipel is 
cedrorum, Loxia leucoptera, Agelceus j)h(jeniceuf<, Sturnella magna, 
and Columba migrator ia, in all amounting to about twenty-five 
examples. A widely different result is presented in the case of the 
waders and shore-birds : thus, of Macrorhamphus griseus fifteen 
examples are recorded; oi Tringa rxifescens and Botaurxis lenti- 
ginosus, seventeen in each case ; while of Tringa macxdata as many 



126 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

as nineteen instances are recorded as having occurred on English 
soil. Further, in regard to this group of birds, we must not forget 
that they live almost exclusively on the opposite shores of the 
ocean, and are already well experienced in flying across wide 
expanses of water, having no doubt, in the course of their life, fre- 
quently crossed seas and inland lakes, of which the opposite banks 
would not have been visible at the commencement of their journey, 
nor would the}^ have any previous knowledge of the distance to be 
traversed. Such birds, then, when they set out on their journey 
over the Atlantic, are not conscious of the task they are undertak- 
ing : in fact they have no inherent notion of the duration of time, 
all that is required being that their strength should hold out until 
the whole distance is accomplished. Hitherto we have had nothing 
which could have assisted us in estimating the extent of their 
capacity in this direction, though there can be no doubt that so far 
as powers of locomotion go, they surpass to an immeasurable degree 
every other division of the animal kingdom. 

After what has been said in the preceding, we are confronted 
by the question as to what may be the causes of these surprising 
migration flights ; for although, generally speaking, they must be 
regarded as exceptional phenomena, they occur far too frequently 
to allow us to regard them as due to accidental straying on the 
part of the birds from their normal routes of migration, or to their 
having been beaten out of their regular course b}' storms. Moreover, 
the number of species which resort to these exceptional migrations 
is, comparatively .speaking, so small, and the movements themselves 
are repeated with such frequency, that we are forced in their case to 
assume the operation of causes which do not aftect other species, 
even though these may be closely related to the former. We must 
add to this the fact that the numerous instances above cited, as 
well as other less frequent occurrences of shore-birds and waders, 
have been observed almost exclusively during the autumn months. 
Now, this circumstance leads one to suspect that we are here deal- 
ing with a phenomenon analogous to that witnessed in the case of 
species from the east of Asia, with the difference that in the present 
case the deviation from the normal southern course of the migra- 
tion is a fixed one to the east instead of to the west, and that here 
again, while some species — such as, for instance, the Americiui 
Bittern before named, various species of Tringa and the like — are in 
a high degree subject to a tendency for turning ott' in this manner 
from their normal migration track, many others exhibit no inclina- 
tion whatever of this kind. Of the latter kind of birds, the Plovers 
from the opposite coast of the Atlantic furnish a good illustration, 
only one species, Characlrius vircjinicxis — a bird which every 
autumn travels in countless multitudes across the sea from Labrador 



EXCEPTIONAL MIGRATION PHENOMENA 127 

to South America — having even been observed in Europe, but on 
that occasion only in one sohtary instance. 

If strong westerly winds were the cause of, or exerted an influ- 
ence upon, the migration of American birds to Europe, as has 
evidently been assumed to be the case, the Plover just mentioned 
should be subject to such influences to a far wider extent than any 
one other species whose home is on the other side of the Atlantic ; 
for amongst the enormous flocks of these birds which cross that 
ocean from north to south, one might expect that a violent 
westerly autumn breeze would in all likelihood drive some one 
individual or another less robust than the rest across to the 
shores of Europe. Such however is not the case ; whence the 
fact of the non-appearance of this Plover in Europe supplies 
far weightier evidence against the theory of migrants being 
driven out of their course by storms, than all the known m- 
stances of the occurrence of strangers have ever furnished in its 
favour. 

At the time when the question of a possible flight from America 
to Europe was first mooted, an achievement of this kind appeared 
utterly beyond the capacity for flight possessed by birds, so far as 
this was then understood, and consequently was dismissed as im- 
possible without being even deemed worthy of further investigation. 
I myself, however, Avas first promjDted by this same question to 
endeavour to discover a standard of measurement for the velocity 
of the migration flight, an attempt in which I may claim to 
have to some extent succeeded. 

Harting still remains very undecided in his opinion on this 
question. Thus in one place he says that it is extremely hard to 
believe that birds, other than natatorial species, should have 
succeeded in crossing the Atlantic, but adds that most of them 
must nevertheless have accomplished this feat, because, on the one 
hand, none of them had been met with in Greenland, Iceland, or the 
Fseroes, and because, on the other hand, many which have occurred 
in England or Ireland have never been observed anywhere on the 
continent of Europe. He however considerably weakens his argu- 
ment when he goes on to say that there was probably good reason 
for suspecting that many of the smaller of these birds largely 
availed themselves of the rigging of ships in the course of this 
passage — overlooking the fact that the hours lost by the birds 
during such rests only prolong the time which they have to pass 
without nourishment. The same argument might be urged with 
equal force in the case of all swimming-birds, belonging to the 
Anatidce, which might purpose to interrupt their flight across the 
ocean ; for even if we allow that all such birds are diving Ducks — 
i.e. Platypeds — which, however, is certainly not the case — the depth 



128 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of the water in mid-ocean is such as would quite preclude their 
search after any kind of food. 

After the facts which have been brought forward in evidence, the 
probabihtj' of a voluntary and direct flight of American birds across 
the Atlantic can hardly any longer be ojjen to doubt. It remains 
for us therefore only to establish the possibility of such a flight. 

While discussing the velocity of migration flight, we have 
already brought forward evidence which in general goes to prove 
that a bird is capable of accomplishing a distance equal to that 
at present under consideration in one uninterrupted flight. A 
few words, however, may be added bearing more especially on 
the case under discussion. The stretch of ocean between New- 
foundland and Ireland covers sixteen hundred geographical miles, 
without any intermediate resting-place. To accomplish this 
distance would, at the slowest speed of flight as determined in the 
case of a wild bird, viz. the Hooded Crow, occupy about fourteen and 
a half hours. On the other hand, in the case of the Blucthroat, only 
nine hours would be required. Nor is there any reason for doubt- 
ing that a healthy bird and a fairly good flyer is capable of remain- 
iutr on the winy for nine, and in extreme cases even fifteen hours. 
We would mention here, however, one other instance which 
furnishes an irreversible proof of an uninterrupted flight of as much 
as three thousand two hundred geographical miles. During its 
autumn migration the Virginian Plover travels from the Hudson 
Bay Territory and Labrador across Guayna and northern Brazil to 
lower South America. In the course of their normal passage these 
birds neither resort to Bermuda, nor even to the Lesser Antilles, for 
resting purposes, but fly across them without alighting, and they only 
interrupt their journey when forced by sudden and violent storms, 
in which case countless numbers of them seek shelter on one or 
another of the aforesaid islands. They have been observed, more- 
over, six hundred miles east of Bernmda, for whole days and nights 
travelling to the south, in flocks succeeding each other without inter- 
mission, and numbering from a hundred to a thousand individuals. 
(Vide J. M. Jones, The Naturalist in Bermuda, pp. 71-77.) These 
flocks, proceeding from Labrador to northern Brazil, meet nowhere 
with the smallest resting-place in the course of their long migration 
flight across the ocean, and are consequently obliged to perform 
this long stretch of three thousand two hundred geographical miles 
without a stoppage. They thus accomplish double the distance of 
sixteen hundred miles from Newfoundland to Ireland, and con- 
sequently r-emovc every doubt as regards the possibility of the latter 
achievement. 

While discussing this subject, the thought may have involun- 
tarily arisen in the reader's mind that some of these wanderers 



EXCEPTIONAL MIGRATION PHENOMENA 129 

in the course of their flight across the wide ocean might grow faint 
in their wing-powers, and thus miserahly perish. I would there- 
fore in tliis place give the result of some observations I have been 
enabled to make in regard to this matter, which show that land- 
birds, such as Thrushes, Buntings, Finches, and the like, are able, 
in case of exhaustion, to rest for a short time on the surface of 
the water — e^en if that be somewhat agitated — and are after- 
wards capable of continuing their journey. 

I made the first observation of this kind whilst engaged, in 
company with the brothers Aeuckens, shooting Gulls about two 
miles west of Heligoland. Some distance off, we noticed a small 
bird swimming on the sea. Neither myself nor my companions 
were able to make out what kind of bird it was, and therefore care- 
fully approached, anxious to secure what we believed to be a great 
rarity. Fortunately, before it was too late, we recognised it to be a 
Song Thrush. Our sportsman's zeal at once changed to a feeling 
of pity, and a desire to save the exhausted creature from what 
seemed a very painful situation. AVe were, however, no Mttle 
astonished on seeing, as the boat approached, the Thrush rise with 
the greatest ease from the water, and fly vigorously and in a 
straight course towards Heligoland. 

On another occasion we were about to rescue a Snow Bunting 
under similar circumstances. This bird appeared, however, to have 
been considerably exhausted, for we found it swinmiing, or rather 
drifting, along on the water, some five or six hundred jjaces from 
the island. On the approach of our boat this bird likewise flew 
up from the water with perfect ease, but was obliged to alight 
again after flying for a distance of from thirty to forty paces. We 
drew up to it once more, when it rose a second time, with no better 
success, however, than before. A third attempt at rescue on our 
part had no further eftect than to drive it for about another thirty 
paces nearer the island. At last we relinquished the task of press- 
ing our assistance upon this obstinate fellow, feeling quite sure that, 
after a little rest, he would be perfectly able to reach the island 
unaided. 

In a third instance, a Brambling was seen drifting on the sea, 
at least three miles east of Heligoland. On the approach of the 
boat, the bird rose and at once ascended to a fairly considerable 
height, after the manner of birds which purpose continuing their 
journey after resting, and, leaving Heligoland unnoticed about 
a mile to its right, travelled onwards in a nearly western direction, 
until it vanished from sight. The nearest points of land which 
the bird could have reached in this direction were the islands of 
Norderney and Borkum, and it seems bej'pnd all possibility that 
the bird could have seen either of these islands from the place 

I 



130 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

where it had set out. Notwithstanding, after a short rest on the 
sea, it was alile, safely and unerringly, to follow the regular track 
of its autumn migration. The cases just related are the only ones 
of the kind which have ever come under my observation, whence 
it would seem that they are of but rare and exceptional occurrence. 

Keturning now to the subject of rare occurrences in Heligoland, 
we must in conclusion make mention of species from high northern 
latitudes which have been observed on this island. Though the 
number of such northern species is a very limited one, even within 
the area of their breeding-homes, Heligoland is nevertheless able 
to produce one or two examples of this kind which would be 
considered ornaments in the finest museums. 

A good many years ago, a large young blue-footed Falcon was 
killed here, which, inasmuch as its measui'ements exceed those 
of all autumn birds of the Gyrfalcon (Falco gyrfalco) hitherto 
observed in this place, must be reckoned among the white northern 
species. As is well known, no difference exists in the coloration 
of the early plumage of these two allied species. Old AVhite 
Falcons, with unspotted heads and tails, and with heart-shaped or 
uniform dark-coloured spots on the shoulders and backs, have 
been observed here on two occasions. Unfortunately, however, 
these birds were not shot. 

My collection further contains a young autumn bird of 
Fringilla (Linaria) holhoUi; and, curiously, coming last in the 
order of sequence in this list, but decidedly the most valuable of 
all, a fine old male of the Wedge-tailed Gull (Larus rossii), in the 
most perfect winter plumage, which was shot here on the 5th of 
February 1858. 

For the present, this last-named bird maj^ probably be put 
down as the most inaccessible of all ornithological desiderata. We 
must hoAvever not omit to mention the three skins of this species 
brought home by Mr. Newcomb, one of the surviving members of 
the unfortunate ' Jeanette ' Expedition, who, with heroic obstinacy, 
and while struggling for very life against hunger, and the cold and 
ice of a Siberian winter, had made up his mind that these priceless 
treasures should not bo lost to science. Further, one or two of 
these birds have been killed on various occasions at Barrow Point 
and in Franz Joseph Land. Still, in spite of these facts, I think 
we shall have to wait a good long time before, as is prophesied in 
the Ibis of January 188-i,' we shall be able to fetch home any 
desirable number of the eggs and skins of this Gull from the 
aforesaid stations of the Arctic Sea. 

' Op. cil. p. lUo. 



VIII. WHAT GUIDES BIRDS DURING 
THEIR MIGRATIONS? 

This question involuntarily suggests itself after we have followed 
the flights of the feathered wanderers, hastening onwards with 
storm-like rapidity, at elevations level with the clouds : — B}^ the 
aid of what capacity are they enabled, on pitch-dark nights in 
October and November, to take up the right path and to pursue it 
unerringly to the end, over, say, a sea of more than four hundred 
miles in breadth, like the German Ocean between the west coast of 
Slesvick-Holstein and the east coast of England ? Man, in spite of 
his senses and intellectual faculties, is not able to continue moving 
in a straight line for even as much as a mile in complete darkness 
or dense fog; whereas birds fly every autumn, without signs or 
landmarks, from the far east of Asia to the west of Europe, and 
from the North Cape of Scandinavia to the south of Africa, tra- 
versing in each case a distance of considerably more than four 
thousand miles. 

What, however, adds considerably to the truly wonderful 
nature of this phenomenon, is the fact that the young birds of the 
year, their age not exceeding six or eight weeks, perform this first 
journey of their hfe with the same unerring certainty as the old 
individuals which follow them a month or two later, and which, 
moreover, have already travelled over the same road on previous 
occasions. 

Any one who, on dark, starless autumn nights, has heard the 
babel of voices of these hundreds of thousands and even millions 
of birds travelling past him overhead, in one fixed direction 
and in undiminishing numbers for the length of whole months, 
without the help of any guiding mark discernible by human eye, 
cannot fail to be led, by the supreme grandeur of this phenomenon, 
to speculate as to what kind of capacities the unfailing perform- 
ance of such an act is due ; more especially if, like myself, he has 
for more than half a century watched the phenomenon recurring 
regularly at each solstice with the same unerring precision as the 



132 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

planets in their courses. For centuries this question has received 
the most serious consideration on the part of inquirers, but no final 
solution of the problem has as yet been arrived at. Nor, indeed, 
is it likely that such will ever be the case, since the performances 
of birds during their n:igrations are raised entirely beyond the range 
of man's mental and intellectual faculties. 

In their perplexity to accoimt for this remarkable phenomenon, 
scientists and observers sought refuge in the assumption of an 
' Instinctive Action ' on the part of birds, in virtue of which they 
adopted unconsciously the right road towards the attainment 
of an unknown goal. Even such unexcelled observers of the life 
and actions of birds as Naumann and the elder Brehin, in the 
course of observations more numerous and searching than any ever 
comprised within the span of a man's life, j^et got no further than 
to the assumption of this said instinctive action on the part of 
birds. Later observers, to be sure, have rejected with contempt 
this exjilanation of a problem unsolved at the jDresent day, but all 
attempts at an explanation which have hitherto been made have 
left it in exactly the same position in which it stood centuries ago. 
The winged traveller, speeding on his way during the darkness of 
night, in unerring course over vast expanses of ocean, presents to 
the savants of our day as great a riddle as it did to the first observer 
in ages before the dawn of history. 

Alfred Newton, in his excellent article on ' Birds ' in the Ency- 
clopccdia Britannica, rejects the idea of instinct as a mere evasion 
of the difficulty of the question, and as excluding all scientific 
investigation of the same. Nevertheless, he says we ought to grant 
that inherited, but vmconscious, experience — which, indeed, was all 
that was understood by instinct — certainly formed a factor in the 
migratory process. According to this view, birds after all acted un- 
consciously in a manner suited to a certain purpose ; this, however, 
in the usual way of speaking, can still only be described as instinctive. 

But can experience be something of which the subject is 
altogether unconscious ? and, further, can experience, the result of 
which is positive knowledge, be actually inherited ? 

Dr. von Middendorff, whose Siberian V03'ages of investigation 
extended to the northern parts of the Taimur Peninsula — and who 
has also made most serious efforts towards solving the problem of 
bird-migration — assumes that there is inherent in birds ' an inner 
magnetic sense ' which guides them on their wonderful migrations 
{Die Isepiptesen Russland, p. 9). He believed he had discovered 
that the routes of the sj^ring migrations of Asiatic birds convei'ged 
towards the Taimur Peninsula, in which region one of the magnetic 
poles is situated, and this led him to adojot the above hypothesis. 



WHAT GUIDES BIRDS DURING THEIR MIGRATIONS ? 133 

When, however, we see, what has been lully discussed in a pre- 
vious chapter, that these lines of migration to the north of many 
species are crossed simultaneously by flocks of other species travel- 
ling in an easterlj' direction, this attempt at an explanation 
of the question will hardly appear sufficient. Yon Middeudortf 
himself did not fail to observe that many birds follow directions 
other than towards the north, and he endeavours to maintain the 
validity of his view by stating ' that birds are persistently conscious 
of the directions m which the magnetic poles lie, as well as of 
the angle of deviation of their flight at the time being from these 
directions, and that they regulated their course accordinglj'. Thus, 
while the sailor has to find his course by calculation, the bird, in 
itself a complete magnet, marks out its path directly from the 
chart of its own inner consciousness.' According to this idea, then, 
the bird does not, like the sailor, act according to calculation, but in 
response to some inner unconscious state of sensation or intuitive 
knowledge which, after all, amounts to the same thing as instinct. 
Moreover, this view of a ' magnetic sense ' ajjplies only to the 
spring migration, and it still remains difficult to see how young 
autumn birds, at the outset of their first migratory journey, can 
possibly know the angle at which their winter quarters in the south 
are situated in relation to the pole. 

Yon Middendorff has, however, attempted to endow bii'ds with 
an additional qualification for rinding their migration routes, by 
crediting them with the possession of what he calls a ' sense of 
direction' (RichfKinn). He says that they are by nature conscious 
of the quarters of the heavens, and able to find their way without 
the aid of the sense of sight or local memory. This, however, is 
merely another name for a capacity previously ascribed to the 
magnetic sense, and tells us no more about the fact itself than that 
it is the result of an inner unconscious state of sensibility. 

We must here mention another highly interftsting observation 
of Professor von Middendorff's, from which it appears that man in 
a primitive state of nature is likewise possessed of a kind of 
instinctive capacity for finding the right way, similar to the faculty 
peculiar to birds and other animals. 

He expresses himself to this effect in his Sibirische Reise 
{Siberian Voyage), vol. iv. Part ii. p. 1168, as follows : — 

' I have never been struck so forcibly by experiences of this 
nature, as in the endless Tundras of the extreme north, where I 
discovered this incomprehensible animal peculiarity present in 
almost undiminished strength in rude and uncivilised men livinsr 
in a state of nature. The capabilities of the Samoyedes in this 
direction often exceed all our ideas on this subject. 



134 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

' Oveijoyed at Iiaving at last discovered in these men my inter- 
preters of that great mystery of nature, the capacity of orientation 
jjossessed by animals, I endeavoured to draw out from them the 
secret of their art, and pressed them on every possible opportunity. 
They, however, only looked at me in a stupefied manner, were sur- 
prised at my astonishment, and supposed that that was an ordinary' 
every-day occurrence, and self-evident: whereas, on the other 
hand, our inability of finding our way seemed to them quite 
incomjjrehensible. At last they completely disarmed me with the 
question : " Well, and how is it that the little Arctic fox finds her 
way on the great Tundra without ever going astray ? " So there I 
was, once more thrown back on the unconscious performance of an 
inherited animal faculty.' 

In one case which he considered doubtful, von Middendorff 
insisted on followmg his compass, but very soon made ' the highly 
surprising discovery that my compass, and not the directive sense 
of the Samoyedes, had deceived me. It was the former, not the 
latter, which, owing to the proximit}' of the magnetic pole, had 
been drawn to an unexjDected extent out of the right direction, and 
I recognised to my shame that I had done these good people an 
injustice.' 

Hence these Samoyedes, too, wandered in the right track with- 
out being able to give a reason for doing so, or, in other words, they 
also were led by instinct. 

I ought not to leave unmentioned that von inddendorii"'s state- 
ments in regard to the migratory movements of animals, covering 
about one hundred and thirteen large quarto pages of his work, 
comprise without a doubt the most valuable observations and 
reports which have ever been published in regard to this subject. 

Of more recent works on the migi'ations of birds, the most exten- 
sive is that of J. A. Palmen, entitled Die Ziigsfrassen <ler Vt'igel} 
It is a treatise of- the highest interest, in which the author makes 
use of a large amount of material, resulting from the observation of 
travellers and local investigators, on a small number of Arctic shore- 
and sea-birds, from which he endeavours to show that birds during 
their migrations are in the habit of following shore-lines and the 
courses of large rivers. In illustration of his theory he adds a map 
of the Old World in which these routes are shown from 80" to 30° N. 
latitude, in their varied windings along sea-shores and the courses 
of rivers flowing north or south. 

Observations in Nature on the author's own part appear not to 
have been made the basis for this work. It is here unnecessary to 
express an opinion as to this conception of the migratory movement, 
' The Migration- Boutes of Birdf. 



WHAT GUIDES BIEDS DURING THEIR MIGRATIONS ? 135 

since, on the one hand, this has been done ah-eady in the chapter 
on the direction of the migratory flight, and, secondly, because we 
are at present not concerned with tlie directions of migratory 
routes, but with the question as to how birds ai'c able to ascertain 
these directions. 

Summed up in brief, Herr Palmen also maintains (Section x. 
of his work) what is now the almost generally adopted view on this 
question, viz. : That originally birds lived in latitudes which 
supplied them throughout the whole year with everything neces- 
sary to their existence : that in progress of time some of them 
accidentally came to stray so far beyond the northern limit of their 
home that on the approach of winter they were compelled to retrace 
their path thither in order not to succumb to cold and hunger : 
that a habit of migrating was developed from such accidental 
erratic wanderings, and that this habit, together with the experiences 
made on these journeys, had been passed on by inheritance from 
the old birds to their young. 

The author further states that the tlocks of migrants generally 
had for their leaders older and stronger individuals : that the young 
were not possessed of an inborn consciousness of the necessity of 
migration, but had to learn all this from their jsarents. The roads 
frequently travelled over by these old birds consisted of a succes- 
sion of spots favourable for taking rest, or feeding-grounds on 
which they were dependent, and the so-called routes of migi-ation 
were determined by the geographical situation of such places. 

Such young birds, again, as travel alone, are further credited 
with the possession of a so-called local sense or local memory. 
This is acquired at first by their getting to know such feeding- 
gi'ounds as are situated in the immediate vicinity of their nests, 
impressing these upon their memory, then discovermg others 
further removed, and so on. Supported by this knowledge of 
stations where food may be obtained, the young birds are now left 
to their own resources to find the way to their winter quarters. 

We have already expressed strong doubts as to the possibility 
of a hereditary transmission of knowledge derived from experience, 
i.e. of positive knowledge, on the part of parents to their oft- 
spring, while, in the chapter which deals with the direction of 
the migratory flight, we have amply treated the question of definite 
routes of migi-ation as laid down by Palmen. What value there is 
in the assumption of a special local sense acquired by birds, in 
virtue of which they are able to find their way to far distant winter 
quarters, is best tested by opposing to this h3'pothesis such facts as 
Nature annually presents in the numerous cases of young birds 
belonging to species which perform their autumn migration not in 



136 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

companies but singly and alone, such, for instance, as the small 
Warbler, whose home is in the far northern parts of Europe. 
Let us assume that a young Warbler like this, bred in Norway,- 
within the confines of the Arctic Circle, had spent several weeks 
in roaming about the neighbourhood of its nesting station to dis- 
tances of twenty or even forty miles, and in the course of these 
excursions had got to know every bush, rock, or piece of water 
within this district, of what possible use, one may justly ask, can 
such limited local knowledge be to it on its forthcoming journey to 
Central Africa ? The time of its departure is drawing nigh ; one 
fine calm evening it sets out on its first migrator^' voj^age, leaving 
the world l^'ing far below it in the scent-laden dusk of evening. 
The moment has arrived for it to enter on the one only true road 
for its journey: Avhat possible guide is there to indicate this road? 
The familiar signs within the circuit of its nesting stations have 
long since vanished, and even if that were not the case, what help 
could be afforded it by some recognisable rock or wood or lake ; 
from none of these could it learn that its winter quarters lay 
not to the west or east but to the south, nor could any of these 
signs point out to it whither the southern course extended. Our 
tiny friend soars along apparently heljjless and perplexed at 
unknown heights in the darkening blue of the evening sky ; yet 
without hesitancy he spreads his tender wings and flies with perfect 
assurance towards the far-off goal. But a few hours more and 
complete night enshrouds hira, still unerringly he pursues his flight 
through pathless space; a thousand, nay, perhaps, thousands of 
feet below him lies the world, no longer recognisable, and even 
Avere he still able to distinguish the dark outlines of land and sea, 
what would that avail him ? — everything is strange ; he has never 
seen it before, and nothing could possibly serve him as a guiding 
sign on his journey. 

At the dawn of the following day our little wanderer will pro- 
bably find himself on the Danish islands, or perhaps in northern 
Germany; preening his plumage in the sunshine, and roving about 
for the day in all directions in search of food ; but evening 
approaches, and with it the hour for resuming his journey. Once 
more, though now in a strange country, he sets out for the goal of 
his wanderings with the same calm assurance as on the evening 
before ; during the night he crosses the Alps, and makes a second 
day's sojourn by the shores of the Mediterranean. Nor are his 
wanderings at an end here ; but the dusk of a third evening 
summons him for fresh departure. He luiows not the extent of the 
water}' surface beneath him, nor how far off is the shore on which 
he may find rest ; no guiding sign or beacon is stretched out in his 



WHAT GUIDES BIRDS DURING THEIR MIGRATIONS 1 137 

way to lead him ou the right path ; nevertheless, undismayed, he 
once more spreads his wings, until at last he finds a haven of rest 
amidst the palms of glowing Africa. 

And all this wondrous journey, the first in its hfe, the little 
bird is assumed to have been enabled to accomplish solely m virtue 
of such a knowledge of the features of its feeding-places as it may 
have acquired in the neighbourhood of its nesting station ? The 
mere fact, already indicated above, that these feeding-grounds not 
only extend to the south of the nest, but also to the east and west 
of it, renders such an assumption absolutely untenable, for what 
should induce the bird to select the first of these directions in pre- 
ference to the others ? Apart from this, the vast majority of birds, 
like the Warbler above instanced, perform their migratory journeys 
at night, and at such an elevation as to make it quite impossible 
for them to distinguish the nature of the ground of the stretches of 
country which lie far beneath them enshrouded in darkness. 
Under such conditions the most highly developed local sense 
would be of no avail, and hence all theories of this kind, however 
ingenious and plausible, fail to advance by one step this enigmati- 
cal factor of the migratory phenomenon. 

Besides this theory of the inheritance of collected migratory 
experiences, the view has been put forward that one generation of 
birds is in the habit of handing down the sum of such expei'iences 
to its successors ; I have however shown, and it is now generally 
acknowledged, that the young birds perform their first migratory 
journey alone, and independently, one or two months before their 
parents, so that this Theory of Tradition, as it may be termed, must 
likewise faU to the ground ; for how could the old birds possibly 
impart their own migratory experiences to their offspring excej^t by 
practical instruction and guidance while travelling in their com- 
pany ? These old birds, however, are in many cases proceeding 
towards raising a second brood, or are still engaged in their autumn 
moult long after their offspring have reached their winter quarters. 
Further, both the Theory of Inheritance as well as that of Tradition 
are also quite untenable in regard to the periodical migratory 
phenomena of other animals endowed with the power of flight, such 
as beetles and nocturnal Lepidoptera. Among the latter the migra- 
tions of Pluna gamma furnish in Heligoland excellent material 
for observation. During their autumn migrations these small 
creatures travel from Slesvick-Holstein to England, across the 
North Sea, a breadth of water of four hundred miles in extent. 
They pass this island in enormous swarms, resembling, as seen from 
the lighthouse, a dense snowstorm driven by a light breeze. Thus, 
according to an entry in my journal for 18S2, on the night from the 



138 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

loth to the 16th of August, with a very Hght south wind, a powerful 
migration of birds occurred. ' From eleven p.m. to three a.m. mil- 
lions of F. gamma were travelling from east to west, like a dense 
snowstorm.' 'Again, on the nights of 16th, I7th, and 18th, large 
numbers of P. gamma passed the island, the migrations commencing 
each evening at eleven o'clock. On the 19th the wind was south- 
east, the weather fine and calm. In the evening the sky became 
overcast, and a strong migration of birds took place. From 
eleven p.m. until two a.m. thousands of P. gamma were again seen.' 
A thunderstorm, with high winds, subsequently put an end to 
the migration. These httle creatures also foUow an east-to-west 
course of migration, and they adhere to it with as much steadiness 
and precision as the different migratory hosts of birds which are 
observed here. That they, too, accomplish their journey in safety 
is shown by the enormous swarms of them which frequently cover 
the east coast of England, and which can only be explained as the 
result of an immigration. Besides P. gamma, large numbers of 
Gastropaclm neustria, Agrotis graminis, and other species, are 
represented in such migratory swarms. It has been suggested that 
these insects are attracted by the light of the lighthouse, and that, 
consequently, it is only around the latter that they are seen in such 
quantities; this, however, is contradicted by the migi'ations of 
Hyhernia defoliaria and H. ayurantiaria , these insects sometimes 
making then- appearance during strong migrations of Larks in 
October, when large numbers of them may be found in the course 
of the night, as well as on the following morning, from one end of 
the island to the other. Now it is quite impossible that these 
moths should be able to coUect experiences of any kind during this 
single migration of their life, which, moreover, is performed in the 
darkness of night across a wide expan.se of water, and even if they 
did, these would be perfectly useless, for these migrants die shortly 
after their autumn migration without having produced further 
oti'spring to which they could commit their experiences, either by 
hereditary transmission or by personal instruction. 

So far as my observations go, the flights of these insect migrants 
are composed exclusively of males. In the case of the Hyhernia, 
species, in which the females are wingless, this is of course in- 
evitable. 

Palmen says in his book ' that young birds do not possess an 
innate Icnowledge of the necessity of migration, nor are they 
cognisant of the direction in which the migratory journey must 
proceed, but have to learn all this from their parents.' Now, after 
what we have just learned in regard to the above-named moths, we 
may perhaps be allowed to ask how these insects could acquire all 



WHAT GUIDES BIRDS DURING THEIR MIGRATIONS? 139 

this knowledge in the absence of parents or any kind of teachers 
during the three stages of their metamorphosis. However much 
we may be disinclined to admit that in regard to many of the 
phenomena connected with migration we are at the limit of our 
knowledge, we can nevertheless hardlj- deny in the above case, and 
in that of von Middendorlfs Samoyedes, the operation as a means 
to an end of an instinctive and unconscious agency. It would in 
any case be interesting to become acquainted with some hj-pothesis 
which might appear to help us over this difficulty also, especially 
as, in the case of the Samoyedes, there was no question of a definite 
migration route travelled over from primitive times ; but we had 
the fact of these people being capable of orientating themselves 
from all points to which Middendorff betook himself. 

It may not be out of place here to refer to the inexplicable 
manner in which dogs are able to find their way back to their 
homes from very long distances. Among many cases of this kind 
reported in periodicals, I will select one which a few years ago was 
related in the Hamburger Correspondent. The owner of a villa 
outside of Hamburg presented a large dog to an acquaintance 
from Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), who was on a visit to his house. 
The animal was put into the dog compartment in the train and 
conveyed to Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), where, however, he managed 
to run away, reappearing some few daj^s after in a very reduced 
condition at the home of his former owner. The following is 
another case of the same kind, based on personal information from 
the owner of the dog, and above all doubt: — A dachshund, about 
a year old, was put into a sack on the estate of its owner and taken 
in a waggon to a farm eight miles off. Arrived at its destination 
the dog was liberated, but disappeared, and was back home again 
before the return of the waggon ! According to the statements of 
some field-labourers, it had taken the shortest road home, straight 
across the fields. A brother of mine, who is a farmer out in Texas, 
told me it was quite a common occurrence there for cattle which 
have been driven more than two hundred miles out into the country 
to return to their native home across pathless tracts and forests. In 
what conceivable way is it possible to explain such facts as these ? 

In the preceding discussion by far the largest number of facts 
brought under consideration have related to the land routes of 
migratory hosts. We have however still to bring under the reader's 
notice a theory which has been established to explain the crossing 
of wide seas by migrants, more especially in relation to the occur- 
rence of American birds in Europe. As already intimated, it was 
considered absolutely impossible for a bird to traverse a stretch of 
water at least sixteen hundred miles in bi'eadth, which is the extent 



140 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of the Atlantic between Newfoundland and Ireland. Hence it was 
believed that the only way in which it could accomplish this 
journey was by making use of what are called ' diluvial land 
bridges.' These at the present day are represented by the mere 
isolated remnants of what, in primary geological periods, were large 
land connections between different continents. In the case of 
birds crossing over from America to Europe, such a connection is 
assumed to be formed by Greenland, Iceland, the Faroes, Shetland, 
and Orkney Islands. The employment of this path as a migration 
route is considered to have developed into a habit, and this habit 
to have passed by hereditary transmission from one generation to 
another from primitive times down to the present day, so that the 
birds now in existence are able to find their way with perfect 
certainty from one to another of these mutilated remnants of a 
previously contmuous chain of land in spite of the fact that these 
detached fragments lie far beyond their range of A'ision. Italy, 
which at one time connected Europe with Africa, dividing the 
Mediterranean into two inland lakes, is said to have formed a 
land bridge of this kind, for birds exchanging their habitats between 
these two continents. 

Having already shown, when speaking of the velocity of the 
migratory flight, that a bird is able to cross in nine houi'S from 
Newfoundland to Ireland, the hypothesis of these auxiliary roads 
loses much of its force. Its intrinsic weakness is, moreover, suffi- 
ciently displayed in the fact that it can apply to only one or two 
cases of migration across the sea, and not universally. Among 
instances which it cannot touch, we maj' once more refer to the 
autumn migration of the American Plover, Charadrius virginiciis, 
which extends from Labrador nearly to Patagonia. Besides the 
innumerable flocks of these birds which every autumn travel rid 
the Bermudas and Antilles, their migration column stretches from 
four to six hundred miles south to the east of Bermuda, whence 
the southern flight of the latter of these migrants extends from 
Labrador to the north coast of Brazil. Now at no time can there 
have existed along the whole length of this line a land bridge of 
the kind referred to above. Throughout the whole of its course 
the depth amounts to two thousand fathoms, and between latitudes 
18° and 28° N. it reaches as much as three thousand fathoms. 
Assuming the depression of the land to be just short of a metre ^ 
per century, from four to six hundred thousand years must have 
elapsed since the sea-bottom along that line was level with the 
surface, or rose above it in the form of a land bridge. Tliis period, 
comparatively short though it may be in the operation of geological 

1 i.e. 3-39 feet. 



WHAT GUIDES BIRDS DURING THEIR MIGRATIONS? Ul 

processes, must nevertheless be of immense significance in regard 
to the animal kinsjdom. But according to Darwin, Credner, and 
others (see Allgemeine Erdkunde, Hann, Hochstetter, and Pokorny, 
PI. xi.) the line from Labrador across Newfoundland, Bermuda, 
and the Antilles not only shows no sign of such a depression, but, on 
the other hand, gives indications of a secular upheaval. Thus, not 
only have we no evidence for assuming the existence at any time 
of any kind of landmarks along the whole of this immense stretch 
of sea, but, on the coutrarj-, the results of scientific investigations 
distinctly oppose such an assumption. We may therefore justly 
ask— AVhat was it, then, that guided the primitive ancestors of 
these migrant flocks, countin"' in their hundreds of thousands, and 
what is it that still enables the generations of the present to per- 
form, with unerring certainty, this wonderful autumn journey of 
three thousand two hundred miles over the trackless expanse of 
the ocean ? 

Incomprehensible as this faculty possessed by migrants of in- 
variably following the right path during their regular migrations 
may appear, it becomes a matter for real wonder when we see how 
they are able also, under exceptional conditions, to accomplish with 
the same unfailing certainty such purposes as correspond to their 
needs for the time being. This faculty is specially displayed on 
occasions when, owing to sudden abnormal changes of tempera- 
ture, they have to i-elinquish a spring migration already half com- 
pleted, and are obliged to turn back and retrace their course to 
their winter quarters. 

An instance of this kind, on a scale of extraordinary grandeur, 
was witnessed here on the night from the 16th to the 17th of 
March 1879. In the chapter on the direction of the migration 
flight we have already related how on this occasion hundreds of 
thousands of migrants, belonging for the most part to the Curlew, 
the Golden Plover, the Lapwing, and their congeners, passed over 
this island in one violent rush westwards, back to their winter 
quarters, making the darkness of the night resound with the wild 
babel of their calls. Excepting that much greater haste was dis- 
played on the part of the wanderers, the movement exactly 
resembled a powerful autumn migration. There was a light south- 
westerly wind, the weather being mild ; it was thawing, and the 
evening was foggy. Hence, from the local conditions of the 
weather, no apparent cause could be assigned for a movement of 
this nature. On the following day, however, the wind changed 
to east-north-east, and a frost set in which lasted until the 28th of 
the month. Undoubtedly, this same wintry weather had set in, one 
or two days before, in regions lying far to the east or east-north- 



142 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 



east of Heligoland. Now, in this case the causes which determined 
the movement were of a quite dift'erent nature from those concerned 
in the normal autumn migration, which takes place at a time when 
there is not as yet the least indication of frost or snow. Neverthe- 
less, the birds managed to hit upon the right way of escaping from 
this sudden and strange emergency. Moreover, in these abnormal 
circumstances they acted — as, indeed, they do in all their regular 
migratory movements — as though they were fully conscious of the 
causes Avhich lay at the origm of the movement, and of the pur- 
pose they had in view. Nay, more, they seemed as though they 
were endowed with an intelligence callable of surmounting all 
obstacles Avhich might tend to hinder their normal course of action. 
Therefore, if neither the theory of hereditary transmission, nor that 
of teaching handed down from one generation to the next, is able 
to explain the ordinary phenomena of migration, how much more 
do these theories fall short of throwing light on exceptional in- 
stances such as that just related ! 

Having thus examined the many various attempts made to 
explain the wonderful faculty possessed by migrants of discovering 
the right path of their migration, and shown how insufficient most 
of them are when confronted with actual facts, observed directly in 
nature, in the course of more than fifty years' investigations and at 
a spot so favoured as Heligoland, I cannot say that I feel encouraged 
to add further to the number of such attempts by others of my 



own. 




IX. THE CAUSE OF THE MIGRATORY 
MOVEMENT 

We have now considered some of the jJi'incipal phenomena which 
the migratory movement of birds presents to us, and it is, in con- 
ckision, left for us to inquire into the immediate cause which 
prompts these creatures to luidertake their migration journeys. 

It would be interesting to discover what induces birds wintering 
in the more southern parts of Africa, where they are subjected to 
hardly any changes of climate, suddenly to leave these stations for 
their breeding homes in the north ; or, again, what it is that urges 
the individuals of a species, the nesting stations of which are 
situated, say, in central Germany, to start on their journey a 
month earlier than other members of the same species the breed- 
ing homes of which are in northern Scandinavia, and which have 
been passing their winter m North Africa. The latter allow the 
migrant stream of their more southern kinsmen to pass over them 
unmoved, as though they were fully conscious that their own time 
for departure is not yet ripe, and that their breeding quarters are 
still held bound in the depths of winter. Phenomena similar to 
these are also presented by different species of the same genus, as, 
for instance, in the case of the two species of Bluethroat, Sylvia 
suecica and S. leucocyana, of which the first has its nesting 
stations within the confines of the Arctic Circle of the Old World, 
while those of the latter hardly ever extend beyond northern 
Germany. Both species pass their winter in Upjoer and Central 
Africa; nevertheless the southern white-spotted species arrives 
here as early as the end of March and up to the middle of April, 
even though the weather be still inclement ; whereas the northern 
red-spotted form does not migrate through this island until May, 
when warmer weather has set in. 

Now what could possibly induce the birds of the southern 
species to start on their journey as early as the end of March, and 
what could cause their northern relatives to tarry until May in the 
common winter quarters ? — for we can hardly suppose either that 



144 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

the birds of the former species are aware that their summer home 
is already habitable towards the end of March, or the latter that 
theirs will not be fitted for their reception until some four or six 
weeks later. 

The phenomena of the autumn migration are equally astonish- 
ing. Beginning at the end of June, and continuing till after 
November, we observe that, throughout its course, not only do the 
various species follow each other in a fixed order of sequence, but 
that an order of like kind is maintained in the case of each indi- 
vidual species by the different sexes and ages of its members, 
without our being able to assign any cause which would compel 
different species, or separate sexes and individuals of different ages 
of the same species, to set out on their migrations at difi'erent 
times. 

From very old times, mainly in consequence of the phenomena 
which succeeded migration, it was conceived that in spring, with 
reawakening life in Nature generally, the reproductive instinct of 
birds also was roused afresh, and that it was this which urged them 
to wander to their nesting-places ; while, in autumn, dearth of food 
and cold admonished them to seek a temporary home in warmer 
latitudes. This view has in part held its ground up to recent 
times, for it is not so long ago that Brehm, in one of his talented 
discourses on this inexhaustible theme, maintained that the two 
great factors in the world's action. Hunger and Love, also 
dominated the migratory movements of birds. There were, indeed, 
sufficient grounds for this conception, for every year we were 
brought face to face with the fact that, immediately after their 
arrival, our feathered wanderers set about building up their 
secluded nests amid jubilant strains of song, whence, soon after. 
we might see the young brood slip out into freedom ; and, again, 
were they not seen to depart with equal certainty as soon as the 
gales of autumn began to sweep the stubbles bare and to whirl 
before them the brown foliage of the woods ? 

These explanations however do not suffice to explain all the 
phenomena of migration ; thus, it cannot be the reproductive 
instinct which prompts birds to set out on their spring migration, 
for many species do not breed in the first, second, or even third 
j'ear of their life, and yet migrate to their homes just like those of 
their congeners, who are endowed with the capacity of breeding ; 
nor are they induced to travel by the example of their parents, for 
they start on their journey alone, and independently, at least three 
or four weeks after the latter. Inasmuch as this last portion of the 
spring migration, consisting of individuals not yet capable of repro- 
ducing their species, probably constitutes a third of the ^vholc host 



THE CAUSE OF THE MIGKATORY MOVEMENT 145 

of migrants, we are naturally led to ask by what impvilse such birds 
are urged to set out on this journey to their homes. 

Nor again are dearth of food and a low temperature the motive 
causes for migration in autumn. The higher purpose of this 
mighty process is unmistakably to prevent the races of birds from 
perishing from hunger and cold ; of this however the single indivi- 
dual has no consciousness, nor in fact can it have any idea as to the 
degree in which its home becomes less habitable with the advance 
of the season, for all such species as are subject to regular migra- 
tions generally leave their homes long before the scarcity of food or 
the fall of temperature becomes such as to be no longer support- 
able. Long before the approach of winter all these birds are in 
latitudes, which, in mildness of chmate and abundance of food, are 
in no waj's inferior to those which form their summer abodes, nor 
do any of them return before spring has again rendered their homes 
habitable ; in fact we may say that from the time they have 
escaped from the egg they have lived in one continuous summer ; 
hence none of them knows what winter, with all its discomforts, 
means ; and accordingly none can be possessed of any innate ten- 
dency for avoiding that, of the existence of which they have up to 
the jjresent remained entirely ignorant. Should a further particular 
proof be required showing that neither lack of food nor cold is the 
direct causes of the departure of birds on their migrations, I would 
call attention to a fact which I myself have determined, viz. that 
during the autumn migration, the young birds of the year leave 
their homes from one to two months in advance of their jjarents. 
Indeed, in the case of the Starling, the young birds which migrate 
at the end of June are not followed by the parents until the end of 
September. Now in this case scarcity of food can hardly have 
been the cause for the departure of the young birds, since there 
must have been a sufficient supply to enable the old birds to stay 
three months longer. Nor can we lay down this earlier departure 
to the influence of cold, for as a rule a rise rather than a fall 
of temperature takes place in the months succeeding June. 

In a manner similar to that described in the case of the Starling, 
the autumn migration of old and young birds j^roceeds almost un- 
exceptionally among all species of migrants. 

According to Professor Newton's view, scarcity of food really is 
the cause which compels the individuals of a species having their 
homes in the extreme north to leave their breeding quarters for 
districts farther south. There their arrival would lead to over- 
crowding, which again would drive previous residents in these 
regions to turn southwards, and so on, until all the birds have 
arrived in latitudes providing them with an abundant food supply. 

K 



146 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

This explanation would have much to commend it if all the indivi- 
duals of a species left their breeding-places in the highest northern 
latitudes simultaneously, and if all followed a north-to-south line of 
migration. I have however shown myself, firstly, that the young 
and old birds of a species migrate at widely difterent times ; and, 
secondly, that a number of species perform their migrations on an 
east-to-west line of flight. Moreover, if the movement were really 
of the gradually progressive type indicated by the view exjn'essed 
above, we should expect to see it proceed at a steady measured 
pace, whereas, on the other hand, we have it presented to us on 
Heligoland in the form of an overpoweringly vast and rapid torrent 
of migration, in which all the original force and simplicity of the 
movements are preserved, and which dashes over the island with 
the chaotic impetuosity of an irresistible cataract. 

Want of food cannot be considered as the cause of this boisterous 
departure of the birds, for the simple reason that, even if such a 
scarcity did arise in the immediate surroundings of their nesting- 
places, they would endeavour to obtain provisions in districts some- 
what farther removed, but certainly not by a sudden flight in a 
straight line, extending over many hundreds, or even some 
thousands of miles. Further, those species, the maih business of 
whose life proceeds in daylight, and which in darkness can do no 
more than flutter about in aimless and unsteady fashion, would 
certainly not defer their departure till sunset, in order to look for 
food durins: the dark hours of the night. 

In recent times it has been the fashion to trace back the 
migratory movements of animals, like any other inexplicable vital 
activity, to the hereditary principle ; and the impulse for the won- 
derful migratory flights performed by birds is said to have been 
developed from isolated and accidental movements of an erratic 
natiu'e. Assuming this view to be correct, it nevertheless aflbrds 
no explanation as to the conditions which must of necessity have 
accompanied a first excursion of this kind. Let us assume that a 
bird, used to a uniformly warm climate and an abundance of food, 
happened in spring, while in search of a mate or nesting-place, to 
stray accidentally into latitudes so far north that the approach of 
winter would plunge it into the direst necessity. Being as yet 
ignorant of migration, our hapless straggler would, under such con- 
ditions, rove about in a helpless fashion, half-starved, and numbed 
with cold, and could only escape certain destruction if some lucky 
chance should conduct it towards the south. Now in these circum- 
stances it is surely more rational to assume that such a bii'd, taught 
in the school of experience, would avoid for the future getting into 
similar straits, rather than that it would voluntarily expose itself 



THE CAUSE OF THE MIGRATORY M0^T:MEXT 117 

a second time to a danger which it had just managed to over- 
come. Indeed, Palmen too, although himself a supporter of the 
theory of heredity, says on p. 269 of his book that birds which 
have on some one previous occasion successfully got over an erratic 
flight of this kind, during which they have endured hardships, 
would hardly forget this experience, and therefore avoid it in 
future. 

Erratic flights of this kind might possibly take place abundantly 
every year ; but on account of the discomforts which accompany 
them, it is by no means likelj' that they would be repeated by 
particular individuals, so that it is diflicult to see how flights of 
this nature could ever pass into a habit. In fact it is highly 
questionable whether an act performed but once in the course of 
each year could ever become habitual at all, and if not, the 
assumption of its hereditary transmission must also of necessity be 
dismissed as imtenable. 

In regard to both of these hypotheses, we would once more call 
attention to what we have said in the preceding chapter in reference 
to the migrations of certain nocturnal Lepidoptera, viz. that these 
insects undertake but one migration in the course of their lives, 
and die after it is accomplished, without producing offspring, 
to which they might impart, either by hereditary transmission or 
tradition, any of their migratory experiences. Notwithstanding 
this, each successive generation performs its migrations with the 
same unerring regularity and completeness. 

In unison with the above-named theories, it has further been 
assumed that the capacity of flight of birds, which originally was 
exercised within the modest limits of short daily excursions in 
quest of food, attained its present astonishing develojament in con- 
sequence of repeated migration flights. We are however equally 
unable to accept this view, for it is impossible that a migratory act 
of a transitory nature, and only repeated twice in the course of a 
year, should so affect the whole organisation of a bird, increasing 
its muscular powers to such an extent as to render it capable of 
performing feats like that, for instance, of the Bluethroat, which 
accomplishes its spring passage of sixteen hundred miles, from 
Africa to Heligoland, in one uninterrupted flight ; or the still more 
wonderful autumn migration of the Virginian Plover over a distance 
of three thousand two himdred miles, executed without a stoppage, 
from Labrador to North Brazil No doubt, by continuous practice 
day after day, the strength of the muscles, and their powers of 
endurance, may be increased up to a certain degree, but transitory 
efforts brought into play but once in every six months cannot per- 
manently affect the organisation of an animal in this manner. 



148 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 



Both in regard to this question as to the immediate cause of the 
departure of birds on their migTations, as well as ih reference to 
that propounded in the previous chapter, we are coiafronted with 
a riddle which has hitherto defied everj' attempt at a solution, and 
which indeed we may hardly expect will ever be likely to receive 
a final explanation. 

Long and profound study has been devoted to this subject in 
many quarters, and has residtcd in the enunciation of several verj- 
ingenious and plausible hypotheses. None of these, however, will 
stand their ground when the actual facts, which the life of birds in 
Nature presents in such abundance, are marshalled against them. 

In one way or another, however, almost every attempt at an 
explanation admits that migrants, with regard to the time and 
direction of their movements, act with a means to an end, but 
unconsciously, or, in other words, by instinct. 

In treating of the various momenta of the migratory flight, we 
have striven as much as possible to place before the reader only 
such facts as are beyond question or criticism, but no attempt has 
been made to furnish a solution of the wide j^roblems which they 
involve. 

In thus abstaining from setting forth new theories, I have been 
guided by the conviction, rendered firmer mth increasing know- 
ledge of the phenomena, that what at present has been ascertained 
in reference to the migration of birds furnishes us with no clue, 
by the aid of which we are enabled to penetrate the depths of 
this wondrous myster^^ The life of a man is too short for the 
complete exploration of this inexhaustible field, and one can only 
regret that one is unable to start afresh with observations and 
inquiries from the standpoint which one has reached at its close. 




II. 

CHANGES IN THE COLOUR OF THE 

PLUMAGE OF BIRDS WITHOUT 

MOULTING 



II. CHANGES IN THE COLOUR OF THE 

PLUMAGE OF BIRDS WITHOUT 

MOULTING 

A PHEXOMENON of great and peculiar interest in the life of birds 
is connected with the alteration of colour undergone by the plumage 
in the formation of the breeding dress ^\athout the renewal of the 
feathers by moulting. In regard to this process, Heligoland sup- 
plies us with an abundance of material for observation, and having 
for many years devoted considerable attention to the subject, I 
cannot omit at this time to place before the reader the most obvious 
results of my investigations. 

Schlegel, in his Sendschreiben an die in Altenburg versani- 
melten Natiirforscher} pubhshed in 18.52, was the first to express 
himself in an incisive manner on this subject, and the surprising 
novelty of his statements at once provoked the liveliest discussion. 
The majority of observers, however, showed themselves decidedly 
opposed to Sclilegel's conclusions (C. L. Brehm, E. von Homeyer), 
while from a few others they received at least partial confirmation 
(Martin, Gloger). On the latter side may be ranged my own 
reports on the subject, which, though they foiled to agree with 
Schlegel's statements in a few particular instances, nevertheless, 
gave general recognition to the fact that, in the case of a large 
number of birds, a great number of the feathers of the plumage 
resulting from the autumn moult underwent, during the following 
spring, a complete alteration of colour. 

For a few years afterwards the subject was occasionally dis- 
cussed in ornithological journals, but subsequently, so far as I 
know, received no further notice. I for my part, however, have 
devoted the most unremitting attention to it ever since that time, 
■with the result of finding my own earlier conclusions full}' corro- 
borated ; while, at the same time, the investigation of a very large 
number of fresh spring birds has further convinced me of the accu- 
racy of one of Schlegel's statements, which I had before considered 
imtenable, to the eft'ect that the margins of the feathers of many 

* Circular addressed to the members of the Naturalists' Congress at Altenburg. 



152 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of the birds of the Snipe species which had become indented or ser- 
rated through wear, were restored to their former perfect condition. 

The change from the winter phimage to the breeding dress 
without moulting is accompHshed in three different ways. The 
simjjlest of these consists in the shedding of the edges of the 
feathers of the winter plumage, which are mostly of a rusty grey_, 
colour; this process goes on during the spring months, and* lakes 
place in the case of the Chats, the Shorelark, the Finches, 
Buntings, and many other species. It is most easily seen in 
those species whose breeding plumage displays a pure and glossy 
black, e.g. the head of the Snow Bunting, the head and fore-neck 
of the Reed Bunting, the head and back of the Brambliug, the 
black head and the breast-markings of the Shorelark, the head and 
back of the Stonechat, the black plumage of the Common and Black 
Redstarts, and in a large number of other species. With the aid of 
a magnifying lens of moderate power, one can quite distinctly 
follow the course of this change in the feathers of the back of the 
Snow Bunting. The light tips of the barbs of these do not all 
fall oft simultaneously along their whole length down to the black 
portion, but gradually and unequally, so that in one and the same 
feather rusty grey plmnules, as yet in their entire length, may 
be found mixed with others reduced to half or even a quarter 
of their original length. Finally, there remains onlj^ a fairly regular 
fine light edge, which, however, also vanishes when the breeding 
garb is complete. The inconspicuously coloured edges of the 
smaller feathers of the j^lumage disappear in a similar manner in 
all the above-named species, thereby exposing the invariably purer 
and handsomer colours of the breeding plumage. 

A less simple manner, in which the change from the winter 
plumage to the breeding garb is accomplished, consists, so far as I 
have been able to determine without the help of a microscope, in 
a peeling oft" of the separate barbs of the feathers, whereby these 
are stripped of a thin inconspicuously coloured envelope, so that 
the purer and finer colour previously concealed beneath the latter 
becomes exposed. This colour is in many cases extremely beautiful, 
e.g. the carmine of the Linnet and Mealy Redpole, or the azure blue 
of the Bluethroats {Si/lria leucocyana, S. ivoljii and »S'. succica). In 
other cases, as in the Pied Wagtail and the Pied Flycatcher, a dusky 
slate grey or rusty grey in this way gives place to a pure glossy 
black. In the Rock Pipit the olivaceous brown of the winter 
plumage vanishes before a lighter greenish grey, and, in the feathers 
of the neck and upper breast, is replaced by a faint vinous tint. In 
the course of this process, as the facts of the matter prove, the 
texture of the feathers also undergoes an alteration; their barbs, 



COLOUR-CHANGES WITHOUT MOULTING 153 

which in ihe winter plumage were rigid, and not in contact witli 
each other, as a result ot" this peeling off become thinner and more 
closely opposed to each other, thereby imparting to the whole of 
the feathers a glossy, silky appearance. Further, the feathers, 
which by the end of the winter were worn irregularly, and blunted 
at the tips, after this change of colour, again have their margins 
completed, and their tips beautifully and evenly rounded off, so 
that they are in all respects like pei'fectly new feathers, such as 
woidd be produced by moulting. This process may be observed 
very distinctly in the feathers of the back of the Pied Wagtail. In 
this bird the colour of the winter plumage is a dusky slate-grey, 
and devoid of gloss, but after the completion of the breeding plumage 
it becomes deep black and of silky brilliance. This black colour 
first makes its appearance as a narrow black border at the tips of 
the feathers, which soon spreads over their whole surface. 

The number of species in which this change from the winter 
jilumage to the more attractive breeding garb is effected, in the 
manner last described, seems to be fewer — in so far at least as 
the birds occurring in Heligoland are concerned — than that of 
the species in which this transformation is carried out by the 
simple falling off of the duU-coioured edges of the barbs of the 
feathers, as previously explained. 

The last and most wonderful process in the colour changes of 
the plumage of birds, not attended by a renewal of the feathers 
themselves, consists in an actual, complete, and very striking change 
in the colour of the feathers, without such alteration being brought 
about, or even assisted, by any changes in their texture. 

As illustrating the climax of this process we may probably point 
to the change from a pure snow-white to an intense glossy black or 
blackish brown. The first of these transformations is displayed in 
portions of the head and neck of the Little Gull, the fore-neck and 
upper breast of the White and Pied Wagtails, the breast of the 
Dunlin, and others. The latter change, from white to blackish 
brown, is observed in the necks and heads of the Guillemots, of 
the Razorbill, and undoubtedly also of the Little Auk. 

In the first-named species the change of colour from white to 
black is brought about in the following manner: commencing 
below, at what afterwards marks the line of separation between the 
black and white markings, the colour appears at first in scarcely 
perceptible dots of pure black at the extreme tips of the separate 
barbs of each feather — the lower portion of the edge being the first 
to be aftected, and thus acquiring a narrow border comjjosed of 
extremely fine black specks; by degrees these edges increase in 
breadth until the black colour, extending towards the roots of 



154 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

the feathers, finally comes to be spread over their whole surface. 
The whole change of colouring at the particular part of the 
body likewise proceeds in an upward direction, so that transi- 
tional stages of the chansre are met with during the whole course 
of its progress. 

In the Guillemots and Auks the change of colour proceeds in a 
different manner ; here the shafts of the feathers of the head and 
neck, which are white in the winter, but blackish brown in the 
summer plumage, are the first portions of the feathers in which 
the black colour makes its appearance ; almost simultaneously the 
blackish brown colour appears at the lower third of the feathers in 
the form of very fine specks, which, coalescing, soon give rise to 
crescentic markings ; these latter, advancing from this point in an 
upward direction, finally cover the whole surface of the feathers. 
In this case, however, the whole change of colour does not proceed 
from below upwards in the regular manner, as described in the case 
of the "Wagtails and the Little Gull, but both begins and terminates 
in separate scattered feathers of the plumage, so that at its com- 
mencement the parts affected appear light, with dark spots, and 
towards its termination dark, with light spots. 

We ought, moreover, to remark that, in the case of the Little 
Gull, the change of colour of the bluish grey feathers of the crown 
of the head proceeds in the same manner as in the portion of the 
heads and necks of the Guillemots and Auks just described ; here, 
too, the shafts are the first to acquire the black colour, which after- 
wards spreads itself over the web of the feathers. Hence we are 
presented with the singular phenomenon of a change to black, pro- 
ceedmg in one and the same individual, in the upper portions of 
the head, in quite a different manner from what it does in the lower 
portions of the same part of the body. 

The black markings of the heads and necks in the summer 
plumage of old birds of the Plover species, such as the Grey 
Plover, Golden Plover, and Asiatic Golden Plover {Charadrius 
fnlviis), are likewise attained by an alteration of colour, whereas the 
black breasts of these birds consist of newly-moulted feathers. A 
peculiar fact in regard to the Golden Plover is that in stuffed examples 
of this species which have been exposed to the light for a considerable 
time, the black colouring, which has been formed by mere change of 
colour, fades to a pale brownish grey, whereas the moulted feathers 
in the same specimen retain all their former glossy black colour. 

We have seen that in the case of the Little Gull the change of 
the colour of the plumage may proceed in a different manner in 
different portions of the body ; a still more surprising result, how- 
ever, is presented by the birds of the genus Tringa, in many of 



COLOUE-CHANGES WITHOUT MOULTING 155 

which the changes of colour have been observed to proceed in two 
or even three different ways in separate feathers of one indi- 
vidual. We shall hero confine ourselves to illustrating the cases 
of the Knot, Dunlin, and especially the Sanderling — to which we 
might add that of the Curlew Sandpiper, and of many other 
species whose breeding plumage is more or less of a rusty red 
colour. In these, as is well known, the upper parts in the winter 
plumage are of a pure or dingy ash-grey colour, the shafts of the 
feathers being slightly less dark than the webs ; in the summer 
plumage, however, the colour of these parts is a glossy black, with 
a broad ferruginous border, in many cases accompanied by latei'al 
spots, which often pass into broad irregular band-like markings. 

In the Dunlin the change of colour develops itself in the fol- 
lowing manner: — In the ash-grey feathers of the back the shaft 
first becomes black ; this colour spreads rapidly over the feather, 
finally leaving only broad grey margins. The latter at first 
change to a dull rusty grey, which, however, subsequently passes 
into a beautiful ferruginous colour. At the same time the dull 
ash-grey tips of the feathers pass into a whitish grey, their margins 
being .simultaneously rounded off to their former entirety. This 
shows that these feathers also, which in winter are worn in such a 
way as to assume a lanceolate shape, undergo a renovation of struc- 
ture, and that their tips do not acquire their whitish colour simply 
by fading. In the Dunlin this change does not extend to the long 
posterior flight-feathers and the smaller outer plumage of the 
wings, in which the colour only becomes somewhat blacker, and 
the margins somewhat more even, but which do not acquire the 
appearance of newly developed feathers, like those of the upper 
parts of these birds. 

In the Sanderling we meet with an actual threefold change of 
colour in the feathers of the upper parts of the winter plumage, each 
one of which undergoes a transition from a uniform light grey to a 
deep black, and from a beautiful ferruginous colour to a pure white. 
The black, which forms the ground colour of the feathers of the 
summer plumage, at first appears above their subsequently white 
terminal markings, and advances with increasing intensity towards 
the radical portions of the feathers. Soon dull rust-coloured lateral 
borders are developed, side by side, with this ground coloui', and a 
blurred spot of similar colour is formed on each web of the feathers ; 
these spots increase in size, become purer in colour, and partially 
pass into transverse bands ; simultaneously with these changes the 
dull light grey of the tips of the feathers becomes tran.sformed to a 
pure white ; not, however, by mere fading, but in this case also by 
a restoration of the worn and blunted barbs to their previous 



156 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

entirety. When the change of colour is complete, the feathers are 
of a deep glossy black, with broad pure white borders, and beautiful 
sharply defined ferruginous spots at the sides, or transverse bands 
of the same colour : their tips, too, which had been worn down to a 
lanceolate shape, have now reassumed their formal beautiful rounded 
form and enthety of margins. In this species the change of colour, 
and simultaneous restoration of the edges of the feathers, extends 
to the long posterior flight-feathers and outer wing-coverts ; the 
white plumage of the breast and sides likewise undergoes alteration 
of colour in this species ; for though the feathers of these parts 
may be described as perfectly pure white, even in the winter plumage, 
this colour is still further heightened to what we must term a 
snowy white in the perfect wedding garment. A similar pheno- 
menon is also observable in the formation of the breeding plumage 
of the Snow Bunting ; nor can such a change be brought about by 
the mere falling off of the rust-coloured edges of the feathers of the 
head and breast. 

In the Knot, the change of colour to the beautiful breeding 
plumage proceeds in a similar manner, except that in this species 
the plumage of the upper parts lacks the broad white terminal 
borders, and displays more of the beautiful ferruginous colour 
in broad irregular spots at the sides and tips of the feathers. 
The change of colour commences by the grey feathers of the winter 
plumage becoming darker at the tips, and thence gradually becom- 
ing blackish ; while, simultaneously, the subsequent ferruginous 
markings make their appearance very faintly in the form of blurred, 
whitish rusty grey irregular jjatches upon each web of the feathers, 
or as stripes along the sides of them : by degrees this marking is 
brought to perfection, the ground colour of the feathers passing 
into a deeper black, while their markings assume a more definite 
shape, and acquire a more intensely ferruginous tint. "\\'hen the 
change of colour is complete, the feathers are of a pure glossy 
black, the ferruginous patches and lateral markings of a very 
intense colour, and sharply defined, while the worn and blunted 
tips of the feathers have, in the course of these changes, gradually 
reassumed their former beautifully rounded form and entirety of 
margins. In this species the change of colour and form of the 
feathers of the upper parts extends also to the greater and lesser 
wing-coverts, and in part also to the posterior flight-feathers. 

The change of colour of the white lower parts of this species 
passes into fexTUginous in a nearly similar manner, the latter colour 
first appearing on the lower third of the feathers on both sides of 
the shafts, as a very pale blurred film, and thence, increasing in 
intensity, comes to spread itself over the whole surface of the 



COLOUE-CHANGES WITHOUT MOULTING 157 

feathers. The last to be affected by this change of colour are the 
upper and lower tail-coverts, in which, indeed, it appears sometimes 
to remain altogether in abeyance. 

In the Bar-tailed Godwit, and undoubtedly also the Black-tailed 
Godwit, the changes in colour from the winter to the breeding 
plumage proceed in a similar manner : in the case of the latter 
species, the material for observation at my command is however 
limited. 

A phenomenon of the highest interest, and one closely connected 
\vith the changes of colour, is the restoration of the worn portions 
of the feathers in regard to which so much doubt has been 
expressed ; this, as has already been mentioned several times, 
especially affects the edges of the feathers, which — in the case of 
many birds of the Snipe family— have, as it were, become jagged 
or serrated by wear. Much instructive material in regard to this 
process is furnished by the various species of Totanus occurring 
on this island. Unfortunately I was not able to extend my obser- 
vations to Curlews as much as I should have liked, since these birds 
are but rarely killed here in the spring. 

Although, in the case of the different species of Totanus, the 
change of colour from the winter to the breeding plumage likewise 
presents us with man}' surprising phenomena in regard to the 
restoration of worn portions of the feathers, only three species, viz. 
the Spotted Redshank, the Marsh and Wood Sandpiper, are of 
special importance, in all of which the margins of the posterior 
flight-feathers and the larger feathers of the upper parts also show 
hght triangular spots. These light spots, however, are so little able 
to stand weai", that by the end of the winter they have almost or 
entirely disappeared, as a result of which the remaining portions of 
the feathers have acquired jagged edges something like the cutting 
edge of a saw. It is this edge which, in the course of the colour 
changes, is completely restored. The most comprehensive material 
for the determination of this process has been supjilied to me by the 
Wood Sandpiper. The winter phunage of this bird is dull olivaceous 
bro^v^a on the upper parts, and marked with small light spots at the 
sides of the feathers, the markings not displaying a sharp contrast 
with the ground colour. These spois increase in number and size 
with the increase in size of the feathers, and at the same timegi'adu- 
ally assume a triangular form, being disposed in close rows at the 
edges of the long posterior flight-feathers. As we have said above, 
the light portions of the feathers are so little capable of resisting 
wear, that they entirely disappear in the course of the winter, the 
edge of each feather being thereby formed into a zigzag line. 

The alteration of colour of this worn plumage to the fresh, gaily 



158 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

coloured breeding garb commences by the shafts of the feathers of 
the upjjer parts becoming blackish at the tips, whence this colour 
spreads on both sides over the whole lower half of the feathers, while 
the light spots at their sides assume a more decided whitish tint. 
At the same time the serrated indentations of the worn jiosterior 
flight-feathers, scapulars, and greater wing-coverts, are restored to 
completeness, the abraded tips of the barbs which formed the light 
lateral markings being restored this time to a nearly pure white 
colour. This process does not extend simultaneously to all the 
posterior flight-feathers, but these latter present all kinds of transi- 
tional stages in the course of their transformation. When this is 
complete, the feathers are of a dusky black colour, the large trian- 
gular spots at their margins nearly white, the serrated indentations 
of the edges of the feathers are filled out, and the whole plumage 
has the appearance as if it had just been renewed by moulting. 

In the Green Sandpiper, the change of colour to the summer 
plumage proceeds exactly as in Glareola, but is less striking, inas- 
much as in this species the ground colour of the feathers of the 
upper parts in the summer plumage is less dark, and the marginal 
spots less light and large than in the Wood Sandpiper. 

In regard to the Spotted Redshank, I have, I am sorry to say, 
only limited material at my command ; still, such as I have, affords 
me sufficient proof that, in this case also, the alteration of colour is 
accompanied by a similar regeneration of the white triangular 
marginal spots of the posterior flight-feathers and greater wing- 
coverts, these markings being much larger in this species than in 
the others previously considered. 

The Greenshank on its arrival here in spring is no longer in 
perfect winter plumage, the alteration of colour having indeed 
almost passed through its tirst stage, for the whitish ground 
colour of the plumage of the upper parts of the winter plumage 
has already yielded to a rich silver grey, though the feathers still 
bear the numerous dark-bluish grey marginal spots. The subse- 
quent course of the transformation may however be followed in an 
extremely clear manner in individuals which one meets with here 
in May. In them the shafts of the feathers first become deep black 
along their whole length, the colour soon spreading as a beautiful 
pure velvety black over both webs of the feathers of the upper 
plumage, only leaving two broad margins, which simultaneously 
acquire a white colour and lose their small dark spots. The change 
proceeds most rapidly in the large scapvilars, but, strange to say, in 
the feathers of the back it only extends to the outer webs, the inner 
webs becoming a whitish silver grey, and forming a broad stripe of 
that colour down the back. 



COLOUR-CHANGES WITHOUT .MOULTING 159 

At the time of its passage in May, the long posterior flight- 
feathers of this bird have not yet completed their change of colour, 
their lower third being still blackish silver grey, approaching a 
faint black towards the roots of the feathers, while the broad whitish 
marguis still bear traces of their earlier marking of dark spots. 

Simultaneously with the change of colour of the upper parts, 
the ,gi"ey tinge of the feathers of the neck, upper breast, and sides 
of J;he breast disappears : these become pure white, and in their 
middle acquhe deep black streaks in the hnes of their shafts, which 
become very broad on the larger feathers, and, extending to their 
tips, assume an elongated tear-shaped form. In the beauty of its 
breeding plumage, elegance of shape, and grace of movements, this 
bird not only occujoies the first place among its congeners, but 
figures as one of the most handsome of our native avifauna. 

In the Redshank the alteration of colour to the summer 
plumage is characterised by a phenomenon not observed in the 
case of any other species here (hscussed, viz. the development of 
the barred markings of the posterior flight-feathers and greater 
wing-coverts in older birds. In the winter plumage all the upper 
parts, as well as the sides of the upper breast, are of a uniform 
oUvaceous slaty grey, with a faint metaUic gloss. Of the same 
colour are also the long posterior flight-feathers and the greater 
wing-coverts. The latter have whitish edges and small dark mar- 
ginal spots, and the sides of the breast are suffused with olivaceous 
slaty grey. 

In all the upper parts the change of colour to the summer 
plumage commences by the shafts of the feathers becoming black, 
which colour expands in the form of lanceolate spots and streaks 
towards the roots of the feathers over their whole surface. At the 
same time darkish dots appear at the margins of the feathers, 
which, gi-adually coalescing, form narrow dark bands running 
inwards to the shafts of the feathers; between these bands the 
feathers become rusty grey, the colouring proceeding from the 
margin inwards. 

The number of the bands increases with the size of the feathers, 
so that while the smaller feathers of the back have only indications 
of them, the scapulars and long posterior flight-feathers display 
from tive to fifteen. The beauty of the markings of these latter 
feathers is further enhanced by the fact that a whitish border is 
formed around each of these transverse bars ; these are especially 
marked in the outer webs of the feathers, the colour proceeding 
from the margins inwards. It is almost superfluous to repeat that 
side by side with these colour-changes all the feathers reacquire 
their former freshness and entirety of margins. 



160 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

In the head, neck, upper breast, and sides of the breast, the 
change commences by the disappearance of the grey colour of the 
winter phmiage ; the feathers become white, and each at the same 
time acquires a small black streak in the line of its shaft ; the latter 
extends towards the tips of the feather in the form of lanceolate 
or sagittal markings, and in the large feathers on the sides of the 
breast develops into barred markings. The feathers on the middle 
of the breast, as well as those of the belly, which acquire no 
black markings, likewise share in the general alteration of colour, 
in so far as they become more purely snow-white. It is well known 
that the feet, and the root of the lower mandible also, during the 
alteration of the colour of the plumage, pass fi-om the dull brick-red 
of the winter plumage to a beautiful pure vermilion red. 

To e.xplain the origin and course of development of the trans- 
verse bars of the long posterior flight-feathers of this species would 
be as difficult, if not more so, than to account for the first appear- 
ance of the black colour at the lower edges of the white neck- 
feathers of the Little Gull. If we are unable to assume in the latter 
case that the colouring matter passes unobserved from the body 
through the shafts of the feathers to the extreme tips of the bars, and 
thence spreads visibly upwards over the whole surface of the feathers, 
we are still less justified in adopting such a view in regard to the 
transverse bars which mark the feathers of the Redshank ; for the 
barbs of these feathers are j^laced much more at acute angles to 
the shafts than the dark transverse bars, so that the former are 
crossed by the latter in many ways, and display in the lines of their 
length several gaps which are not marked by the dark colour. AVe 
may therefore well ask how the dark colouring matter could leap 
over these intervening gajDs to get to the place of its destination. 

In the species hitherto discussed we have traced the course of 
the alteration of colour from the winter to the breeding plumage, as 
this proceeds in all old birds which are capable of producing a 
brood. We may accordingly regard this as the normal phase of 
the phenomenon. In establishing this conclusion, we have however 
by no means come to the end of this interesting subject, for many 
cases occur in which the colour of the early plumage of young birds 
is also more or less completely changed to that of the breeding 
plumage of old individuals. Under those conditions, however, we 
can only regard the process as an exceptional case of assistance or 
protection, which, as I have grounds for believing, does not affect all 
the individuals of a species which are of the same age, but only 
such as are specially strong. Wliat, however, particularly leads one 
to regard the phenomenon as abnormal is, on the one hand, the 
fact tlaat a partial alteration of the colour of young birds takes place 



COLOUR-CHANGES WITHOUT MOULTING 161 

in the case of those species where the old mdividuals are not 
subject to such a change of colour at all, e.g. the Falcons and Gulls ; 
and, on the other hand, that in the case of many young birds this 
alteration takes place on parts of the body in which, in old indivi- 
duals, the change to the breeding plumage is effected not by altera- 
tion of colour, but by moulting. This is the case in several of the 
Plovers, among other species. 

Among the Falcons, it has been in the case of only one species — 
the Merlin — that I have noticed an alteration of colour in its first 
spring ; but the material at my command has been so abundant, 
and my observations have extended over so many years, that every 
doubt as to their accuracy is out of the question. These young 
Falcons are met with here on migration in the course of April 
and at the beginning of May. At that time the colour-changes are 
about half completed, and may be observed most clearly in the 
feathers of the backs of male birds. The dusky earthy brown colour 
of these feathers passes into a dark slate grey, which is first 
discernible as blackish streaks in the lines of the shafts, and soon 
spreads over the whole of these feathers, supplanting, as it does so, 
the rusty grey spots along their margins. Simultaneously a lively 
rust-red tint makes its appearance at the back of the neck : the 
crown of the head assumes a very dark blackish slate-grey colour, 
and here and there feathers on the upper and lower breast become 
faintly rust-coloured. The colour of the back of such individuals, 
however, never attains to the beautiful pure blue grey of the old 
birds, but remains a dull bluish slate-grey. 

Of the Gulls I have had under my observation large numbers 
of the Herring Gull, the Great Black-backed Gull, and Lesser Black- 
backed Gull. In old birds of these species, the only parts of the 
plumage subject to changes of colour are on the head and neck. 
In the winter plumage the ground colour of these parts is white, 
but is marked by greyish brown streaks. In the spring, however, 
this plumage, by an alteration of colour, is changed to a pure 
white. 

In young birds the plumage is, up to their second spring, dull 
white, with blurred, light-brown markings ; subsequently, by an 
alteration of colour, their plumage acquires a more or less perfect 
resemblance to that of their parents. In the case of the Herring 
Gull, the bluish grey coloration at first spreads over scattered 
feathers of the plumage of the upper parts, their light-brown colour 
disappearing at the same time. The light-brown markings like- 
wise disappear on the head, neck, ixnd lower parts, the feathers of 
which become white, though not as pure white as those of the old 
birds. 



162 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

In the Greater Black-backed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 
the alteration of colour proceeds in a similar manner. In these 
the slate-black colour is at first faintly developed on both webs of 
single feathers of the upper plumage, especially the large scapu- 
lars, and, becoming darker, very soon supplants every trace of the 
darker markings of the early jjlumage. In this case, also, the black 
colour does not attain to the purity in which it is found in the old 
birds, but remains imtil the autumn moult in the condition of 
a pale, blackish, slate-grey. I have had repeatedly examples of 
the Lesser Black-backed Gull, in this j^l'-iniage, offered me as 
Siberian Gulls (La ran affinis = borealis, Brandt), but the colour 
of their plumage is invariably much darker than that of the latter 
species. 

In the above-named Gulls the alteration of colour does not, as 
in many other cases, commence at the shafts or the edges of the 
feathers ; but both the light grey and slate-black, though at first 
very faint, yet aj^pear to spread immediately over both webs of 
isolated feathers, and increase in depth and purity in proportion as 
the bro^vn markings of the winter plumage gradually disappear. 
This change of colour may be followed with extraordinary clearness 
in the Inirge scapulars, the posterior flight-feathers, and the greater 
wing-coverts. 

An alteration of colour of this kind in younger individuals, 
taking place on parts of the body where the change to the breeding 
plumage is in old birds effected by moulting, has been observed 
also in the Lapwing, the Golden Plover, and Asiatic Golden 
Plover (Charadriu.'^ fidvus). It occurs in all probability in many 
other species of the same genus ; but, under my observation, the 
largest amount of material was furnished by the above-named 
species. 

In the old birds of these three species, the light-coloured winter 
plumage of the breast is replaced in spring by a new growth of 
feathers of a pure and glossy black, whereas in individuals not 
quite a year old the black colour of the feathers of the breast is 
produced by an alteration of colour. This black colour first appears 
at the lower ends of the feathers, and thence spreads upwards ; it, 
however, does not, as in old birds, extend over the whole surface of 
the feathers, but only reaches the middle, the radical halves of the 
feathers remaining white. At the sides of the head, throat, and fore- 
neck, however, both old and young birds acquire the black colour of 
their summer plumage by an alteration of colour. It appears, how- 
ever, that it is only the stronger individuals among these young birds 
which assume provisionally a nuptial plumage of this kind ; for only 
solitary examples, and these invariably very strong birds, are met 



COLOUR-CHANGES WITHOUT MOULTING 163 

with. In a young spring specimen of the Grey Plover, in mj' col- 
lection, the alteration of colour extends also to the plumage of the 
upper parts, the brownish, ash-grey, ' sraoky-pale ' (rauchfahlev ) 
feathers acquiring at first a faint blackish colour, which extends 
from their lower ends upwards, leaving crescentic ash-grey tips. 
As the black colour becomes deeper and purer, these grey tips pass 
into whitish grey colour. This alteration of colour spreads almost 
simultaneously over the whole upper plumage of the bird, the long 
broad flight-feathers alone excepted. In some of these latter the 
change of colour has advanced so much that their marginal mark- 
ings in form already approach those of the old birds ; others, again, 
as yet only display narrow whitish edgings and tips, while a few 
still retain their worn lanceolate shape and serrated margins. The 
renovation of the feathers proceeds at exactly the same pace as the 
alteration of colour, so that those feathers in which the latter 
change has advanced furthest already possess beautifully rounded 
tips and equal margins. In others, again, where the light markings 
are only about half-completed, the edges in places still displaj- 
indentations ; while, finally, those in which the later markings are 
still in the form of a narrow light border, have their edges indented 
in the form of a continuous undulated line. 

What has been stated above in regard to the change of the 
winter plumage of birds to their breeding dress is based throughout 
on observations made on fresh examples, in which, by examination 
of the inner cutaneous surface, it was possible to determine with 
certainty whether moulting actually took place or not. In fact, it 
is only material of this kind that ought to be employed in these 
observations, and not examples belonging to species in which the 
change of colour, instead of affecting all the feathers of a particular 
part of the body equally at the same time, commences instead in 
isolated feathers, while others are left in the unaltered colour of the 
winter plumage at its completion. Where the change of colour 
proceeds by gradational stages in this manner, the bird under 
examination completely gives one the impression of being fully in 
the moulting state, and, in fact, examples of this kind have been 
sent me by ornithologists of repute in jjroof of a moulting process. 
A close and exact examination, however, at once reveals the fact 
that all these scattered and newly coloured feathers are of perfectly 
normal size ; nor do we find among them an}- others of half or 
more than half their full growth, still within the dermal quill, as 
would be the case if one were dealing with a moulting individual. 

There can be no doubt that an alteration of colour and renova- 
tion of worn parts of the feathers takes place to a greater or less 
extent in the great majority of birds. I have, however, limited 



164 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 



myself to treating only of the small number of examples in regard to 
which I can speak with positive assurance, confining my description 
to what actually takes place, without embarking on any hypotheti- 
cal conjectures as to the how and wherefore of the matter; for if it 
indeed should ever be sought to trace the origin and course of the 
process, this end could only be attained by way of the most 
searching microscopic examination. 




III. 

ACCOUNT OF THE BIRDS OBSERVED 
IN HELIGOLAND 



III. ACCOUNT OF THE BIRDS OBSERVED 
IN HELIGOLAND 



BIRDS OF PREY 



ACCIPITRES. 



Falcon — Falco. — This great genus of the Falcones inhabits in a 
large number of forms all the countries of the earth. In the first 
volume of the Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum, Sharpe 
gives the number of all the species of Diurnal Birds of Prey known 
up to 1874, as 377. They are divided into a large number of genera, 
but, following Naumann, I liave described all the species visiting 
Heligoland under the name Falco. These number twenty-seven. 

In the Noble Falcons the type of a Diurnal Bird of Prey reaches 
its highest development both as regards bodily structure, capacities, 
and entire mode of life. 

1. — Greenland Falcon [Weisser Falke]. 

FALCO CANDICANS, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Groot blii-futted falk = Great Blue-footed Falcon. 
Falco candicans. Naumann, i. 269, xiii. 95, and Blasius, Nachtrdge, 16. 
Greenland Falcon. Dresser, Birds of Europe, vi. 21. 
Faucon gerfaut. Temminck, Mannd, i. 1 7, iii. 9. 

A bird of this species, of strikingly large size, was noticed roving 
about over this island about the end of October 1843, inviting 
the continuous attention of everybody deeming himself a gunner. 
The bird was seen everywhere, wherever one might happen to be 
standing or walking. At one moment it would be speeding from 
the Dune with short, powerful strokes of the wings, then across the 
cliff at a height of from two to three hundred feet, and, arrived on 
the west side of the i.sland, would swoop suddenly down after a 
quarry to the surface of the water, sometimes in a nearly perpen- 
dicular direction, sometimes making one or two turns. Then it 

^ Falco candkan-'i, Gmel. 



168 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

■would tear away again at lightning speed, till, vanishing from sight 
in the dull autumn air, one thought the bird had gone for ever, 
"when suddenly it would again come into sight, soaring calmly 
along from an opjoosite direction. 

This bird illustrated in a most striking fashion the open, bold 
mamier m which the Noble Falcons hunt their game, relying only 
upon their own strength and skill, and tlespising every kind of craft 
or stratagem — in short, the most perfect types of a bird of prey. 

I, who was at that time a passionate sportsman, made no small 
efforts to secure it. To this end I had already, in the course of the 
day, exchanged my double-barrelled gun for a single English duck- 
gun, but "without effect. As a last resource, late in the afternoon, I 
took up my riile. I found the Falcon sitting on the cliff with his back 
turned towards me : but he was at a good distance, or about 380 feet by 
the chart. He was sitting perfectly at his ease, turning his head and 
looking across at me. At the same moment I pulled the trigger and 
the noble bird fell, hit between the shoulders, into the depth below. 

Overjoyed at my lucky shot, I little dreamt at that time that 
the bird which had just fallen a victim was to be the originating 
cause and foundation-stone of the ornithological collection, at pre- 
sent probably without its equal, which it has been my good fortune 
since that time to accumulate in Heligoland. 

Up to that time I had, to prevent their being spoiled, pre.sented 
any examples of particular beauty or interest which had come 
within my reach to collectors of my acquaintance. This bird, how- 
ever, was so splendid a creature that I could not induce mj'self to 
part with it. It was soon joined in quick succession by a fairly 
numerous and varied company. Now, however, to a mere love of 
sport there was added a higher interest. I borrowed from Re3'mers, 
Brehm's Textbook of the Birds of Europe ; ^ obtained, a few years 
later, possession of Nauraann's first and only work, and thereafter 
worked with unflagging zeal in the field of Ornithology. 

Since that time two or three examples of this bird, of equally 
large size, have been seen on the island, but none have been shot. 
Tlie afore-mentioned bird measured, while still fresh, 23'62 inches = 
(60 C771.) from the forehead to the tip of the tail. It is a J'oung bird 
m autumn plumage, the naked parts round the eye and talons 
beins: of a light bluish m-ey. 

Again, on the 19th September 1S4S, a large Falcon was observed 
here ; its head and tail were of a pure white, the back with heart- 
shaped black spots on a white ground, and the wings white with 
black tips. Inasmuch as the bird flew away from the face of the 
cliff, the observer standing at the top above it was unable to see its 

' Lehrbuch der VOgel Europas. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 169 

under side, which, however, was undoubtedly also white. Tliero can 
further be no doubt of this bird having been a Falcon, and not the 
more commonly occurring white variety of Buzzard, seeing that the 
observer was one of the brothers Aeuckens. As their names will be 
mentioned very frequentl}' in the course of my notes, I will here state 
at once, that their loiowledge of the birds occurring here, their powers 
of observation, exactness, and reliability are almost without a parallel. 
Unfortunately the eldest of the brothers is no longer living. 

This Falcon has his home in the high Polar regions of the 
Northern Hemisphere. It appears to have visited England [Britain] 
with greatest frequencj'. Harting {Handbook of Britisli Birds, 
p. 85) gives about twenty instances of its occurrence up to 1872. 

2. — Jer Falcon [Norwegischer Falke]. 

FALCO GYRFALCO, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Blii-futted falk = Blu&-footed Falcon. 

Falco gyrfalco. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtriige, 22. 

Jer Falcon. Dresser, vi. 15. 

Gerfaut. Schlegel, Krit. d. Europ. Viigel, ii. and 5. 

Although the Jer Falcon occurs here either once or several times 
in the course of every autumn, it is only very rarely shot ; in fact, 
this has not happened on more than six or eight occasions during 
all the time I have been collecting. The birds appear in October 
and November, all the examples hitherto met with having been birds 
of the year, with the backs of uniform dark amber-brown colour. 
I possess, however, one beautiful example of this species, in which 
all the scapulars, as well as the greater and greatest outer wing- 
coverts, are marked by bands of a dull buff colour ; in the smallest 
of these feathers the markings merely consist of oval spots, which 
extend from the margins of the feathers half-way across them to the 
shafts; but on the longest scapulars, and more especially on the 
largest outer wing-coverts, as well as on the upper tail-coverts, 
they pass into regular bands or bars, which extend close up to 
the shafts, and in some cases touch them. The longest feathers 
of the flanks are marked by very broad bands of this kind, which 
on the outer webs of the feathers extend to the shafts, but do not 
quite reach them on the inner webs. 

The colour of the cere and talons was in this example of a pale 
yellow, with only a slight tinge of the earlier bluish grey colour. 

The total length of the freshly killed bird was 19"68 ins. 
(50 cm.); length of wings, 18-S5 ins. (352 mm.); length of tail, 
8'15 ijis. (207 vim.); length of tail left uncovei'ed by the wings, 



170 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

2'13 ins. (54 mm.). The bird is a male, and was shot on the 9th of 
November 1848. No old bird of this species has yet been seen or 
shot on the island. 

The breeding range of this Falcon extends fi'om Northern 
Scandinavia, through Northern Asia, as far as Arctic America. 

3. — The Saker [Sakkekfalke]. 

FALCO SACER, Linn.i 

Falco lanarius. Naumann, i. 279, xiii. 98. 

Saker. Dresser, vi. 59. 

Faucon sacre. Schlegel, Krit. d. Eur. Vogel, ii. and 9. 

In the year 1839 or 1840, Reyraers possessed one of the larger 
Falcons, which he at that time described as a Lanner. It was an 
old bird, for it had, while still fresh, light 3-ellow talons, but the sides 
of the breast and flanks were not spotted nor barred, but had dai-k 
stripes on a Hght buft'-coloui-ed ground ; the head, too, was largely 
rust-coloured. When at a later date I had an opportunity of exam- 
ining skins of Falco sacer, I became convinced that Reymers' bird 
belonged to this species. So far as I know, this beautiful bird fell 
into the hands of Brandt of Hamburg, who at that time was buying 
up almost every beautiful and interesting example that was killed on 
this island. Since that time the bird has not been seen again in 
Heligoland, although in the course of years very many species, some 
of them represented by numerous individuals, which have the same 
home as this species, viz. — south-eastern Europe, Asia Minor, and 
Palestine — have been observed and frequently shot on the island. 
Unfortunately at that time I had not commenced collecting. 

4. — The Lanner [L.^nnerkalke]. 

FALCO TANYPTERUS, Lichtenstein.^ 

Lanner. Dresser, vi. 5 1 (?). 

Faucon lanier. Schlegel, Krit. d. Eur. Vogel, ii. and 1 1 (?)• 

In the summer of 1840 a local bird-stuifer was exhibiting in his 
shop one of the larger species of Noble Falcons. My ornithological 
acquirements being at that time very limited, I considered the 
bird, on account of the bars on its flanks, to be an old Peregrine, 
and intended to buy it as such ; the owner, however, remarked to 
me that it was not an old bird, as was proved by its back, which 
was brown, whereas in old Peregrines it is of a beautiful blue colour, 
and to my subsequent regret I withdrew from the purchase. On 

' Falco sacer, Gmel. - Falco fetdeggi, Schlegel. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND ITl 

my coming soon after into possession of Nauraann's work, I saw at 
once that the bird was not F. jjeregriniis, but that it naight be the 
species represented on Plate 23 as an old Lanner Falcon. I was, 
however, still doubtful, inasmuch as the bird in question was less 
strongly spotted on its breast, which was rather richly suftused 
with rust-colour ; and, further, because the feathers of the flanks 
displayed, if not very broad, yet ver}^ sharply defined blackish- 
brown bands. Later on, however, at the Berlin Museum, I recog- 
nised at once, and most definitely, in an example exhibited as 
F. tanypterus, the bird which forms the subject of this paragraph. 
This species also has not been seen again in Heligoland, nor 
need this be a matter of much surprise, for it is a singular fact that 
examples of all species whose homes lie far to the south of Heligo- 
land — that of the present species being in Central or Upper Africa — 
are among the very rarest occurrences on this island. In the por- 
tion of this book which deals with the Migration of Birds I have tried 
to explain that species belonging to western Europe are also hardly 
ever seen, and indeed are hardly to be expected, in Heligoland. 

5. — The Peregrine [Wanderfalke]. 
FALCO PEREGRINUS, Linn.i 
Heligolandish : Siiepp-falk = Snipe Falcon. 
Faho 2}eregrinns. Nauuiann, i. 285. 
Peregrine. Dresser, vi. 31. 

Faucon pelerin. Temiuinck, Manuel, i. 22, iii. 11. 

^Vhere bird-life is represented in such abundance as in Heli- 
goland, it is but natural to expect also to meet with this Falcon — 
one of its noblest representatives. Indeed, it seems to have become 
more frequent in its visits during the last thirty years, for before 
that time I had given up all hope of ever securing an old example 
in perfect plumage for my collection. As a last resource, therefore, 
I hit upon the idea of keeping a young bird, whose wmg had been 
damaged, confined in a large cage in the open air, until it had 
assumed the full adult i^lumage. The experiment was crowned 
with the most complete success : but after three or four years I 
had become so fond of this magnificent bird, with its beautiful dark 
eyes sparkling with pride and daring, that I should never have for 
one moment thought of killing it, if the absolute impossibility of 
procuring food for it, during an exceptionally severe winter, had not 
driven me to this necessity. 

Since that time, besides many young birds, several old examples 

•' Falco peregrinuis, Tunstall. 



172 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of this species have been shot here, so that, after several exchanges, 
my collection can now show a pair to which it would be difficult 
to find superior specimens. The male is very small, the head, upper 
breast, and some portion of the breast below this, are white through- 
out, without spots, and with only a scarcely perceptible tinge of 
rusty-buft' colour (rostgdhlich). The shafts of the feathers of these 
parts do not display the faintest trace of transverse stripes. At the 
sides of the breast a few very siriall tear-shaped markings are 
found; the feathers of the flanks have a bluish-grey tinge, with 
faint indications of narrow blackish-grey bars. 

The specimen described was shot on the 7th of April 1S7.5. 
The chief time of migration of this bird is, for Heligoland, from 
March until the middle of April, and again in October; young 
birds make their ajipearance as early as the end of August ; these 
are mostly of a very dark slaty-grey colour on their upper j^arts. 

The breeding range of this species extends from North Africa 
to the North Cape, and within the same parallels of latitude 
throughout Asia and America as well as in Greenland. 

6. — The Hobby [Baumfalke]. 

FALCO SUBBUTEO, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Boam-falk = Tree Falcon. 

Falco subbuteo. Naumann, i. 296. 

Hobby. Dresser, vi. 6g. 

Faucon hobereau. Tenuninck, Manuel, i. 25, iii. 12. 

This elegant little Falcon makes its appearance on Heligoland 
at the end of April and in the course of Jlay, when the weather 
begins to get warm ; but only solitary examples are met with. 
During the return (autumn) migration, lasting through September 
or thereabouts, the appearance of old birds is still rarei*. Young 
summer birds 1 are rarer still from the middle to the end of August; 
of these last not ten examples have been shot during all the time 
I have been collecting. 

One of these birds was seen here on a calm warm summer 
afternoon, engagcil in the pursuit of common cabbage butterflies, 
which it consumed very deftly during its flight, seizing them with 
its talons, and then conveying them to its beak 

The shooters of Heligoland hold every Falcon in great respect, pro- 
bably on account of a certain piratical kinship or syrajDathy. Hence 
one of these gentlemen, who regarded such a proceeding on the 
part of this Falcon as rather below its dignity, thought that it 
could only be acting thus from mere wantonness or for amusement. 
' Anglice — Birds of the year.— Tr. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 173 

The Hobb}- breeds throughout the wliole of central Europe as 
far north as southern Scandiuavia, and in the same hititudes 
throughout Asia. Its numbers, however, are said to decline con- 
siderably towards the east. In Spain only scattered examples are 
said to nest. 

7. — Eleonora Falcon [Leonoras Falke]. 
FALCO ELEONORAE, Gen^. 

Falco concolor. Graufalk. V. d. Muhle, Ornith. Griechenlands, 14. 

Eleanoran Falcon. Dresser, vi. 103. 

Faucon Elconore. Temiuinck, Manuel, iv. 593. 

The sole authority for the admission of this species into the list 
of the birds of Heligoland is a statement of Claus Aeuckens, ac- 
cording to which, on the 26th of May 1879, the same day on which 
he shot Pallas' Short-toed Lark {AJxitula pwpoletta), a Falcon flew 
close past him, which in its whole bearing resembled a Hobby, but 
was somewhat larger than the latter, and of a uniform slate-grey 
colour — he had, in tact, never seen one like it before. On my sug- 
gesting that it might have perhaps been Falco rufijyes, he assured 
me most emphatically that the bird in question had no red feathers 
on the tibiffi, nor red under-tail-coverts, and certainly was not rufipes, 
which was, moreover, smaller, had a different manner of flight, and 
was perfectly well known to him. On Aeuckens afterwards seeing an 
example of F. eleonorae, which I had procured, in my collection, he 
at once said that it was a bird of this kind which he had seen on the 
date before named. Knowing how thoroughly reliable aU Aeuckens'b 
observations are, I have no longer any doubt in the matter. 

The occurrence of F. eleonorae is further supported by the 
simultaneous occurrence with this bird of another species, also a 
native of the far South-East, to wit, the small Lark above named, 
i.e. Al. pispoletta. Similar cases, indeed, have occurred pretty 
frequently on the island. 

8. — The Merlin [Zwergfalk]. 

FALCO AESALON, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Liitj-falk = The Little Falcon. 

Falco aesalon. Naumann, i. 303. 

Merlin. Dresser, vi. 83. 

Faucon imerillon. Temminck, Manuel, i. 27, iii. 13. 

Of all the Falcons this small and dexterous robber visits Heligo- 
land in greatest numbers, and its migration extends over a very 

' Fcdco asalon, Tunstall. 



174 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

considerable period. Young birds arrive as early as the end of August, 
and are seen until the middle of November. The spring migration 
takes place in March and April. Unlike all the other Falcons, which 
swoop down upon their prey from above, this small bird, being 
even more eminently equipped for flight, may very frequently be 
seen attacking its prey from below in an upward direction ; roving 
low over the fields, the bird will suddenly dart upwards in an oblique 
direction into the midst of a flock of Chaffinches or Pipits, at a dis- 
tance of from about two to three hundred paces off, and at a height 
of a hundred and fifty feet. On approaching its victim this Falcon 
in a most peculiar manner throws itself over on one side of its body, 
and attacks the prey in darting past it. I have never j^et seen an 
attack of this kind miscarry, although it is carried out with light- 
ning-like rapidity ; failure however happens very often when the bird 
attacks its prey by swooping downwards from above, both in the case 
of this small Falcon and also in those of the larger species. In the 
pursuit of its prey this bird rushes past, swift as thought, keeping 
its feathers closely pressed to its body and the wings half- closed. 
This makes it appear so tiny that almost all the gunners of this 
island feel convinced of the existence of a Falcon still smaller than 
the Merlin, which however, they say, flew at such an extraordinary 
speed that no one had as yet succeeded in shooting it. Under the 
circumstances, this may be considered a very pardonable error. 

The nesting-places of this small and lovely Falcon extend from 
the Hebrides and Ireland eastwards through northern Europe and 
Asia. America possesses a species only slightly distinguished from 
it, viz. Falco columbarius. 

9. — The Common Kestrel [Thukjifalk]. 
FALCO TINNUNCULUS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Scoarenkoater-lioai'k = Beetle Haivk. 

Falco tinnuni-idus. Nauniann, i. 323. 
Common Kestrel. Dresser, vi. 113. 
Faucon cresserelle. Teiiiminck, Manuel, i. 29, iii. 14. 

As may be gathered from the name, the gunners of Heligoland 
are too acute observers to give to this species a place among the 
Noble Falcons, but hold it in such low esteem as to call it the Beetle 
Bawk. This bird has the peculiar capacity of sustaining itself 
while soaring in the air steadily and apparently immoveably at one 
particular spot. This habit is known here as rufteln, [a word which 
signifies to shake or rattle,] as it seems to be effected by short but 
rapid motions of the wings. In this act it is probably seen nowhere 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 175 

to greater perfection than on this island, whei-e it may often be seen, 
particularly over the eastern shore, poised in the air with the body 
motionless, as if nailed to the spot, at a height of from a hundred 
to a hundred and fifty feet, and that frequently in the teeth of a 
violent easterly gale. Under the last conditions the bird somewhat 
depresses the head and fore part of its body, and keeps its tail 
slightly raised above the level of its back, somewhat in the 
manner of a cuckoo on the wins^, its narrow wins^s being at the 
same time drawn up close to the body. In this position it remains, 
keeping its head turned to the wind, which has often the force of a 
hurricane, without moving a feather, fixed motionless to the same 
spot, except when, now and again, it exchanges its place for another 
with a few hast}' strokes of the wings. 

This bird visits Heligoland in great numbers, and isolated 
examples may also be seen out of the regular period of migration 
at all times of the year. In the spring it arrives as early as March, 
and is of common occurrence during April and May. Young birds 
are seen as early as the middle of August, and old ones throughout 
September and October. 

The Common Kestrel breeds numerously throughout the whole 
of Europe up to about 60° N. latitude ; in the south its breedmg 
area extends to North Africa, and to the same extent of latitude 
through the whole of Asia. 



10. — The Lesser Kestrel [ROthelfalke]. 
FALCO CENCHRIS, Frisch.i 

Falco cenchris. Nauiuann, i. 318. 

Lesser Kestrel. Dresser, vi. 125. 

Faucon cresserellette. Temminck, Manuel, i. 31, iii. 15. 

To my knowledge this bird has only occurred three times in the 
island, but Reymers once stuffed and sold a male bird before I had 
begun to collect. In the summer of 1839 or 1840 a young bird was 
shot by a visitor on the Dune, but he merely skinned it. The 
specimen later on came into my possession, but being only a skin, 
I did not value it much and gave it, if I am not mistaken, to Herr 
von Zittwitz ; po.ssibly it is still at Gorlitz, where his collection 
went afterwards. Finally Claus Aeuckens saw a ' small Kestrel 
with red back and blue wings,' flying away almost from under 
his feet from the edge of the cliff, without, however, being able 
to get a shot at it ; for under such conditions almost all birds 

■ Falco cenchrU, Naum. 



176 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of prey precipitate themselves vertically do\vnward, and are at once 
lost to sight. 

The homes of this small Falcon extend through the whole of 
Southern Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor, Turkestan, and as far 
to the East as India. 

11. — Red-legged Falcon [Rothfuss-Falke]. 
FALCO RUFIPES, Beseke.i 

Heligolandish : Road-futted falk = Red-footed Falcon. 

Falco rnjipes. Naumann, i. 311. 

Bed-legged Falcon. Dresser, vi. 93. 

Faucon Kobez. Temminck, Manuel, i. 23,111. 17. 

Records of the occurrence in Heligoland, either of living birds 
or freshly killed examples of this beautiful Falcon, with the talons 
and skin round the eyes still displaying their bright red colouring, 
are much rarer than one might expect. So far as my experience 
goes it has only been shot five times, and seen on one other occa- 
sion. The earliest of these occurrences dates back to May 1840. 
The bird in question was a male, appearing in its first full adult 
plumage. It came originally into the possession of Reymers, who 
stuffed it, and fi'om whom I bought it afterwards. The bird is 
in my collection. Its general plumage is blue-grey, but the shafts 
of the feathers of the lower parts are still marked by black streaks, 
and the upper breast has some scattered rust-coloured feathers 
remaining. The flight-feathers retain large white transverse spots 
on their inner Avebs, and the tail still displays a broad black ter- 
minal band. 

Later on, Oelrich Aeuckens — the eldest of the three brothers, 
generally known as ' Old Oelk ' — obtained two of these birds, first a 
male and afterwards a female. A fourth example, a beautiful old 
male in perfect ))lumage, was shot by my eldest son on the 20th of 
May 1868, and is also in my collection. On the 3rd of June 1887, 
Jan Aeuckens shot a one-year-old male, in which, however, the 
adult plumage is still in an incipient, imperfectly developed stage. 
On the 13th of the same month Claus Aeuckens again saw a Red- 
legged Falcon flying about among the houses on the Highland ; he 
was, however, imable to shoot it under these conditions, and the 
bird was not seen again afterwards. 

The migratory movements of this species are as yet not ascer- 
tained with precision. In general, and so far as applies to the 
preponderating number of individuals, theh* line of migration is one 
trending from north to south. 

1 Faico vespertinus, Linn. 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 177 

This results from the simple fact that the western limit of their 
breeding range extends, not considering extralimital exceptions, 
from Greece through Hungary to the region of the Dwina, while 
their winter quarters stretch through Africa as far south as Damara- 
land, where they are reported as occurring in flocks amounting to 
tens of thousands. Damaraland is almost in the same meridian as 
Greece and Hungary. This would likewise explain the very rare 
occurrence of this Falcon in Heligoland, because this island lies to 
the west and outside of its line of migration. It is, however, difficult 
to reconcile with this view its numerous appearances in England 
[Britain], where, according to Harting {Handbook of British Birds, 
p. 86), it has been observed twenty-nine times between May 1830 
and October 1868. The only way out of the difficulty would be to 
accept Dresser's statement to the effect that the birds also nest in 
Algiers, though this is doubted by Seebohm. If Dresser be correct, 
the birds which reach England, like all exceptional occurrences 
during the summer months, would be individuals which had lost 
their {jairing-spouses during the first stages of the breeding season, 
but strove to appease the unsatisfied breeding instinct by continu- 
ing their journey in the direction of the normal spring migration of 
the species, viz. northwards across France to England. 

In the portion of this book which deals with Migration in 
general (Part i.), I have sought, by citing many instances, to 
establish this idea, as one solving the question of exceptional occur- 
rences during the summer. 

Seebohm (British Birds, i. 42) gives the Jenisei as the eastern 
boundary of the bi'ecding range of this species : in Turkestan, 
it appears, according to Sewertzoff, to be a common migrant. In 
India, however, not many of these birds pass the winter : at this 
season, indeed, they are nowhere met with so abundantly as in 
Lower Africa, where, as already stated, the flocks are said to number 
tens of thousands of individuals. 



12. — Golden Eagle [Goldadler]. 
FALCO CHRYSAETUS, Linn.i 

Falco chrysaetus. Nauiiiann, xiii. 8 ; Blasius, Naclitnigi', 7. 
Golden Eagle. Dresser, v. 533. 

The true eagles, feathered do^vn to the toes, count among the 
rarest occurrences of Heligoland. So far as observations go, the 
bird has only reached the island four times within the last forty 

' Aquila chrysaiitoii (Liun.). 



178 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

years. Before I commenced collecting, a young example of the 
Lesser Spotted Eagle, almost as gaily coloured as a young Gannet 
(Sida (dJia), was shot here, while about twenty years ago a similar 
bird was found dead at the foot of the cliffs, havmg been washed 
up by the sea. The same gunner who had shot the Lesser Spotted 
Eagle just referred to, also shot a Golden Eagle on the 18th of 
November 18G7. Further, a perfectly white Eagle, of equally large 
size, was also observed here, but unfortunately not shot, although one 
of the best gunners of the island, Jan Aeuckens, had already levelled 
his gun at it a few paces off, and was in fact in the very act of pulling 
the trigger. The plumage of this bird was throughout snow white, 
like that of a swan ; it had already been shot at during the morn- 
ing, but at too great a distance. In the afternoon it was seen 
sitting on one of the sandhills, and Aeuckens landed in a small boat 
unnoticed by the bird : he succeeded in climbing up the sandhill 
without being heard. Having reached the top, he was separated 
from the bird by a distance no greater than ten or twelve feet, the 
breadth of the summit. The eagle had his back turned towards 
him, the head somewhat dej^ressed, the pointed feathers of the 
neck strongly erected ; he looked, as Aeuckens expressed it, ' very 
grumpy,' a grain of shot had hit the back of his head above the 
ear, and blood was trickling down from his white feathers. Aeuckens 
silently raised his gun and took aim ; but at the moment of pulling 
the trigger the thought struck him that at such close quarters the 
shot would mutilate and ruin the bird ; he was at a loss what to do. 
As ill luck would have it, he slid quietly down the hill again in 
order to consult his father, who was waiting down below ; their 
whispering scared the eagle ; a shot sent after him from too great 
a distance failed to hit the bird, which was never seen again. I 
suspect that this was the white variety of the Golden Eagle which 
is said to occur pretty frequently in Northern Asia. The iris of 
this example was of a rusty orange. 

The example of the Golden Eagle shot here is a rather young 
male, perhaps a little more than two years old. The pomted 
feathers of the head and hinder part of the neck are of an intense 
orange-brown colour (orange-rostfarbig), the tips only being of 
a somewhat more faded buff colour (rost-gelb). The tail has 
irregular coarse brownish black spots on a ground of dark grey, 
with very broad black terminal bars, exactly as figured on Nau- 
mann's Fig. 1, plate 339. The feathers have no white towards 
their roots. The under side of the bird is dark brown, the feathers 
of the legs are of similar colour, the feathers of the upper breast 
have a buff-coloured (rost-gelb) border. The Golden Eagle nests 
in the mountains of Europe, Asia, and North America, excepting 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 179 

those of the highest North ; but it is not met with hi Greenland 
or Iceland. 



13.— Lesser Spotted Eagle [Kleiner Schreiadler]. 
FALCO NAEVIUS. Linn.i 

Falco naeviiis. Naumann, i. 217, xiii. 50; ibid. Blasius, NachtriUje, 10. 

Lesser Spotted Eagle. Dresser, v. 401. 

Aigle Criard. Temminck, Manuel, i. 42, iii. 23. 

As has been abeady mentioned under the preceding species, this 
bird has been met mth t^vice on the island ; the same gunner who, 
in 1867, shot the Golden Eagle before referred to, also shot, about 
the year 1838, when still quite a young fellow, the only Spotted 
Eagle ever killed on the island. The bird was quite young and very 
strongly spotted, its plumage comparing remarkably with that of a 
young Gannet {Sula alba). It was stuffed by Eeymers. A bird of 
this species, which had been washed up by the sea, was afterwards 
found at the foot of the chff by the elder Aeuckens ; it had however 
been so much eaten into b}' the thousands of rats which frequent 
the place that only the upper parts of the bird — which was lymg on 
its back — and the wings, were left undamaged. This bird too was 
a strongly-spotted young male. 

The Lesser Spotted Eagle nests in northern and central Germany, 
Livonia, Poland, and south-eastern Europe as far south as Greece. 

14.— Sea Eagle [Seeadler]. 
FALCO ALBICILLA, Lmn.2 

Heligolandish :. Oadlear = £o9?c. 
Falco albicilla. Naumann, i. 224, xiii. 66. 
Sea Eagle. Dresser, v. 551. 

Aigle ■pyyargue. Temminck, Manuel, i. 49, iii. 26. 

If an east wind sets in at the aj^proach of winter we may with 
safety reckon upon seeing one or more of these birds circling round 
in the course of the day ; and should the wind be succeeded by 
a lasting frost, Sea Eagles become, if not daily, yet by no means 
unusual occurrences ; if, on the other hand, westerly winds and wet 
weather prevail during the winter the birds are absent. Isolated 
examples are also seen occasionally in October and early in the 
spring. 

' Aquila pomarina, C. L. Brehm. - Haliaetns albicilla (Linn.). 



180 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

It is surprising that only joung or middle-aged examples, with 
the tails more or less darkly marked, are seen here. During the 
long interval of forty years or more, an actuall}- white-tailed 
Eagle has only been seen twice ; and it was only after waiting for 
almost as many years that by a most lucky accident I secured, on 
the 3rd of February 1875, a very old example, in full adult plumage, 
for my collection — the bird having been found dead on Sandy 
Island. 

The Sea Eagle is a resident breeding bird from Greenland 
southwards to Scotland, and extends within the same parallels of 
latitude to the most eastern parts of Asia. 

15. — Osprey [Flussadler]. 

FALCO HALIAETOS, Linn.i 
Heligolandish : Fesk-oadlear = Fish Eagle. 
Falco haliaitus. Naumann, i. 241. 
Osprey. Dresser, vi. 139. 

Aigle halhuzard. Temminck, Manuel, i. 47, iii. 25. 

While the preceding is more especially a winter visitant on 
Heligoland, the exact opposite has to be stated in regard to the 
present species. In the spring it does not make its appearance 
until the warm days of April and May. The gay-coloured young 
birds appear in August and are followed by old birds during 
September; all prefer a light warm south-east wind for their 
journey. 

Excepting in the North and South Polar Regions, the Osprey is 
distributed as a resident breeding species over all parts of the earth. 

16. — Short-toed Eagle [Schlangen abler]. 
FALCO BRACHYDACTYLUS, Temminck." 

Falco brachydactylus. Naumann, 1. 236. 

Short-toed Eagle. Dresser, v. 563. 

Jea7i-le-blanc. Temminck, Manuel, i. 46, iii. 24. 

This interesting species has been shot in the island, unfortu- 
nately some years before my time — Reymers having received an 
example in 183.5, which he stufted and sold ; its white breast was 
very sparingly spotted. Later, Claus Aeuckens saw a bird of this 
species ^vith numerous veiy dark-coloured spots very close to him 
on the edge of the cliff, but failed to get a shot at it, inasmuch as 

' Pajulion haliaetu.i (hinn.). - Circaetus gal/icus {Gme\.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 181 

the bird, like all birds of prey when surprised in this manner, 
flew off in an almost vertical — i.e. downward — direction. 

It is rather strange that this Eagle, which according to 
Rohweder (Vogel Schleswig-Holstein's, p. 5), is resident, though 
only sparingly, throughout the whole of that district, should not 
occasionally i\y across to this neighbouring island. Evidently it is 
limited very strictly to a north-to-south line of migration. 

This bird occurs as a breeding species in central and southern 
Europe, and Asia. 

17. — Gos-hawk [Hdhnerhabicht]. 
FALCO PALUMBARIUS, Linn.' 

Heligolandish : Groothoafk = Great Hmnk. 
Falco palumharius. Nauniann, i. 249. 
Gos-hawk. Dresser, v. 587. 

Aiitour. Temminck, Manuel, i. 55, iii. 27 

This stately bird of prey has only been seen four or five times 
in Heligoland during the last fifty years. Two of these examples 
are in my collection, one a young, the other an old bird The 
latter was shot on the 8th of March 1880, and is a fine female in 
adult plumage ; the other a young autumn bird, in the too zealous 
pursuit of a prospective victim, got into the throstle-bush and was 
caught. 

The Gos-hawk is distributed as a breeding species over the 
whole of Europe and Asia ; that its visits to Heligoland are so rare, 
although, according to Rohweder (I.e.), it is abundant, and even 
nests pretty frequently in the neighbouring district of Schleswig- 
Holstein, is probably due to the complete absence of trees on this 
island. To the same cause its rare appearance on the i.sland of 
Borkum is probably attributable. (Droste-Hiilshoft' Vogelwelt der 
Nordseeinsel Borkum.) 

18. — Sparrow-Hawk [Finkenhabicht]. 

FALCO NISUS, Linn.2 

Heligolandish : Lulj hoafk = Little Hawk. 

Falco nisus. Naiimann, i. 258. 

Sparrow Hatvk. Dresser, v. 599. 

Ej)ervier. Temminck, Manuel, i. 56, iii. 28. 

The autumn migration of the smaller birds provides a well- 
spread table for this nimble robber, and it accordingly does not 

^ Astiir jialumhariua (Lmv.). ■ Accijiiter nisus (hinn.). 



182 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

fail to make its appearance, often in great numbers, directly after 
its commencement. 

As early as the middle of August, simultaneously with the 
arrival of the young Chats, the first young Sparrow-Hawks make 
their appearance. These young birds contmue to arrive through- 
out the whole of September and October, the first old examples 
not reaching here before the beginning of the latter month ; these 
old birds, as well as scattered young birds, may still be met with 
diu-ing the whole of November. 

Like all diurnal birds of prey, this species performs its migration 
journeys during dajdight, the birds arriving suddenly as though 
they had dropped from the clouds, and mostly in large flights, 
but not until late in the afternoon ; they seem to have travelled a 
very long distance, for their crops are perfectly empty, while they 
must be considerably troubled by hunger, if one may judge from 
the eager manner in which — until, and oven after, sunset — they 
pursue every small bird which comes within their reach. 

Like most other birds, the Sparrow-Hawk flies during its 
migration at a very great height, at all events out of the range of 
vision of the human eye, which may be estimated at least at 6000 
feet. On one occasion, during an October afternoon, I saw this 
Hawk arriving in exceptionally large numbers. The sky was covered 
uniformly with high and somewhat striped white clouds, or rather 
cirri, which form the most favourable background for perceiving 
an object at a very great height, when viewed vertically overhead. 
My attention was attracted upwards by some descending Hawks. 
Both I and ' Old Oelk,' Avho was in my company, saw at various 
heights above us many of these birds descending together in small 
circles of twos and threes. As their number kept continually in- 
creasing, we directed our attention to portions of the sky where nO' 
birds were to be seen, and observed, after a short and strained look 
upwards, some scarcely discernible small dark points which, after 
a short time, we recognised to be Hawks. According to my 
experience, and that of my companion, the distance at which 
a bird of the size of a Hawk is still visible as a distinctly per- 
ceptible point, amounts to about the length of Heligoland — i.e. 
5700 feet; but it is impossible to say how far above this limit 
the height of the migratory flight of this bird may not have 
extended. This question of the height at which birds fly during 
their migration has been discussed more fully in the section on 
Migration generally. 

Since many of the smaller birds, when pursued by the Sparrow- 
Hawk, take refuge in the throstle-bush, this bird is also frequently 
caught in the net, greatly to the joy of the Heligolanders, who 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 183 

shoot it with great zeal, since, hke all other raptorial birds, it 
forms a favourite dish here. 

The nesting range of this species extends over the whole of 
Europe as far as Japan. In the East, however, it is said to be less 
numerous. 



19. — Common Buzzard [Mausebussard]. 

FALCO BUTEO, Linn.' 

Heligolandish : Bott-uhl = Short Owl. 

Falco bnteo. Naumann, i. 346. 

Common Buzzard. Dresser, v. 449. 

The Common Buzzard visits Hehgoland throughout the whole 
year, excepting in June and July, for the most part in small 
groups of three, four, or more examples, though sometimes during 
the autumn migration these numbers are increased almost up 
to hundreds. Shoidd a sharp frost set in later on during the 
winter, solitary examples of this species are to be met with almost 
daily. These specially devote their attention to the countless 
swarms of rats which infest the base of the cliff. 

The Buzzard breeds in Europe and western Asia up to about 
65" N. lat. 

20. — Rough-legged Buzzard [i;auhfussbussard]. 
FALCO LAGOPUS, Lmn.2 

Heligolandish : Euch-fiitted Bott-ubl = Rough-footed Buzzard. 

Falco lagopus. Naumann, i. 359. 

Rough-legged Buzzard. Dresser, v. 47 1 . 

Bum pattue. Temminck, Manuel, i. 65, 471. 

This bird is never found in Hehgoland as numerously as the 
preceding species, though it is common at all times and well known 
to eveiy gunner. Xor is it seen only during the spring and autumn 
migrations, but solitary examples are also met with in the course 
of the winter. 

I have only on two occasions met with an old male here, similar 
to that figured by Naumann, Plate 34, fig. 1. All the rest resembled 
more or less the example portrayed as fig. 2 on the same plate. 

This species breeds in northern Europe and Asia, and in 
Scandinavia as far as the North Cape. 

' Buteo vul'jaris, Leach. ' ArchibtUeo tarjopus (Gmel.). 



184 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

21. — Honey Buzzard [Wespenbussakd]. 
FALCO APIVORUS, Linn.^ 

Faico apivorus. Naumann, i. 307. 

Honey Buszard. Dresser, vi. 3. 

Buse bondree. Temminek, i. 67, iii. 38. 

Remarkable as Heligolanders are for the faculty of recognising 
peculiarities of habits, etc., in the birds which frequent their island, 
this faculty seems in the present case not to have been exercised. 
For whereas the local shooter and observer is generally very ready 
as well as happy in the choice of a local name for a bird manifest- 
ing any such peculiarity, no such name seems to have as yet been 
applied to this particular bird. This, like the preceding species, is 
simply called Bott-uhl, i.e. Short Owl. Probably this absence of a 
distmctive designation is due to the fact of the bird being a bird 
of passage only, so that a close investigation of its manner and 
mode of life is rendered impossible. Moreover, its migration takes 
place at a time when, for the majority of Heligolanders, bird-shoot- 
ing has already ceased to be a profitable pursuit — to wit, during 
the latter half of May, and again from the middle of August to the 
middle of September. Hence the bird is but rarely shot, and its 
characteristic feature, the feathered bridles or lora, fail to attract 
the notice of any but such few sportsmen as combine an interest 
in ornithology with their love of sport. To them the Honey 
Buzzard is of course well enough known. 

Only once, during the first few years of my collecting, did I 
secure a very fine old example of this species. In this example 
the head was of a light bluish grey, the sides of the upper breast 
and longest feathers of the flanks being white, with a few kidney- 
shaped light brown spots. Unfortunately, owing to my knowledge 
being at that time still very hmited, the example was ruined, and I 
have never since met with one which even approached it in beauty. 

As already stated, the spring migration of this species takes 
place pretty late. Their autumn migration, on the other hand, is 
commenced very early, and the birds somehow always manage 
to avoid rough weather during its progress. In the spring one 
rarely sees many of the birds together, but during their autumn 
migration they almost alwaj-s travel in smaller or larger assem- 
blages, which sometimes, during the first weeks of September, 
assume considerable dimensions. Thus, on one of these days — 
the 19th of December 1858 — small groups of from three, five, and 

' Pemis apiforus'lLmn.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 185 

sometimes as many as ten individuals, passed the island in the 
course of the forenoon. At noon these flights succeeded each other 
at shorter intervals, while at the same time an increase in the 
number of individuals took place. From three o'clock in the 
afternoon, however, until about six in the evening, the migration 
pi'oceeded in one incessant stream, the numbers of individuals in 
the successive flocks increasing up to fifty, eighty, or even larger 
numbers. These made their appearance on the horizon in unin- 
terrupted succession on the east of the island, and disappeared from 
view in the far west. 

At this time scarcely any gaps occurred between the successive 
flocks, the van of one band being almost contiguous with the rear 
of that which preceded it. The weather at the time was beauti- 
fully calm, and one might almost fancy that he heard the rustle of 
their wings though the mighty horde of wanderers passed on their 
way silently at a great height above. 

The question, ' Whence comes this enormous multitude of birds 
of one and the same species?' is one that may well excite our wonder 
and astonishment. Leaving out of consideration for the moment 
the fact that the direction in which these birds travelled was from 
.east to west, their number was so astonishingly large that the 
bi-eeding stations of central and southern Scandinavia could not 
possibly have produced or accommodated so vast a throng; only 
the endless forests of European and Asiatic Russia could have given 
them birth. Even then, however, it remains as much as ever a sub- 
ject for wonder how so countless a multitude of individuals, whose 
nests only occur scattered wherever found, could have possibly 
congregated for migratory purposes on one and the same day. 

The breeding range of this species extends from northern Spain 
through Europe. In Scandinavia it stretches up to the Arctic 
circle, and extends within the same parallels of latitude, to all 
appearances, as far as eastern Asia. 

The manner and means by which Buzzards, during their depart- 
ing journey, frequentlj' rise to elevations beyond human ken, is a 
phenomenon of the highest interest, which has been abeady dis- 
cus.sed in gi'eater detail in the section dealins: with the height at 
which the flight of migration proceeds in different instances. 

A peculiar feature of the process in regard to these birds consists 
in the fact that they do not, for the purpose of attaining the re- 
quisite elevation, make use of the motion of their wings or of aerial 
currents, but soar upwards in a calm atmosphere with their wings 
outspread and perfectl}' motionless. I had noticed this proceeding 
in huncbeds of instances every year. My reports on the subject to 
fellow-ornithologists, however, invariably met — except in one in- 



186 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

stance — with so much opposition, that, in order to allay all doubts 
on the matter, I, one calm sunny day towards the end of September, 
at noon, fixed my e3'es on one particular individual of the large 
number of departing Buzzards without letting the bird pass out 
of mj- sight as long as I was able to distinguish it in the clear sk3\ 
When it had reached a height of about 400 feet it lazily flapped 
its wings two or three times, and then spreading them out soared 
upwards, without moving its wings, until it disappeared from view. 
This, accordins: to a reliable estimation, must have occurred at a 
height of from 12,000 to 15,000 feet. I base my estimate of this 
height on the migratory flights of the Hooded Crows which pass 
everj' autumn across Heligoland or along its shores. Among the 
flocks of these birds as they fly round the extreme southern point 
of Sandy Island — a distance of about 8000 feet — a keen e3-e can 
still distinguish every individual bird. Hence the height of the 
above-mentioned Buzzard, seen from below in the whole exjjanse 
of its wings, has certainly not been exaggerated. These Buzzards 
are frequently accompanied by the Common Kestrel, as was also 
the case in the present instance. The Kestrel, however, rises 
upward in a manner quite different from that of the Buzzard, 
for it careers in circles round the latter, its flight in this way 
assuming a spiral course. It is indeed a very pleasing sight to 
behold this small Falcon, with oft-repeated hasty strokes of the 
wings, following in faithful attendance the large Buzzard as the 
latter soars calmly ujjwards to the heights above. 

Evidently the Kestrel is not equipped for a soaring flight like 
the Buzzard, for, in order to perform its spiral upward revolutions, 
it is obliged from time to time to execute ten or twelve rapid and 
powerful strokes of its wings, which enable it, in virtue of the speed 
thus acquired, to describe a half or complete circle on calmly 
expanded pinions. The only investigator who, as the result of his 
own multiphed observations, confirmed my reports as given above, 
Avas Dr. A. Walter, an observer whose early death is a deplorable 
loss to science. I happened, during a discussion I had with him 
on the difterent phases of migration, to make mention of this jjar- 
ticular subject, when he at once interrupted me, confirming my 
statement, and further mentioned his own observations as to the 
part of companion-migi'ant played by the Kestrel, though I had not 
yet alluded to that circumstance. In his own home — Livonia — 
he had often, during the shooting season, observed with great delight 
the peculiar social journej- of these two feathered plunderers. 

How the Buzzard is able, in an atmosphere so much lighter 
specifically than its own body, to soar upwards like a balloon, with- 
out the mechanical aid of its wings, and without being rendereo 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 187 

capable of such a movement by a strong air-current, is still a 
physical puzzle. That, however, such is actually the case is sup- 
ported by countless observations. The subject has been entered 
into more fully in the before-mentioned chapter of the part of this 
book which deals with Migration in general. 

22. — Common Kite [Eother Milan]. 

FALCO MILVUS, Linu.^ 

Heligolandish : Bott-iihl med iittklept stert = Buzzard xoith forked tail. 

Falco milvus. Naiimann, i. 333. 

Common Kite. Dresser, v. 643. 

Milan Royal. Temminck, Manuel, i. 59, iii. 30. 

This bu'd too, though quite common on the neighbouring 
mainland, counts here among the rarer occurrences ; it is scarcely 
seen once or twice in the course of a year, and only three 
examples have been shot during the last fifty years. That in my 
collection was obtained on the 29th of November 1874, when 
wintry weather had already set in ; another was shot in June, after 
it had been for some days feasting on the little Guillemot-chicks 
on the rock. The third example was shot many years ago in 
April or May. The few other examples which have been observed 
occurred in April and May. 

The Common Kite breeds in more or less considerable numbers 
from the Canaries to the Ural, nesting in Scandinavia up to 60° N. 
latitude. 

Contrary to the movements of the Honey Buzzard, whose 
autumn migration takes place in a decidedly westerly direction, 
that of the Common Kite seems to be equally fixed on a southerly 
line of passage ; for if there existed the least inclination westwards, 
the bird would certainly reach here very often from the neighbour- 
ing Schleswig-Holstein, where it is a common bi'eeding bird, and 
from southern Sweden, where it nests in considerable numbers. 

23. — Black Kite [Schwaezer Milan]. 
FALCO ATER, Linn.^ 

Falco ater. Naumann, i. 340. 

Black Kite. Dresser, v. 651. 

Milan noir. Temminck, Manuel, i. 60, iii. 30. 

I received a bird belonging to this species during the first years 
I was collecting, but as it was a poor example I gave it away 

' Milmis ictinus, Sa,vigay. - Milous migrans [Hodd.). 



188 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

again, thinking at the time it would be easy to obtain a better; 
but although this bird, unfailingly recognisable during flight by 
the peculiar form of its tail, has been seen a few times since, all 
attempts to kill another example have hitherto failed. 

The nesting range of this bird extends from nortli-west Africa, 
through south and central Europe as far as the Lena. It has 
not yet been observed in Norway and Sweden, but has been met 
with in Russia as far north as Archangel. Rohweder notes it as of 
very rare occurrence in the south and south-east of Holstein, and 
in England it has only been shot once. 

24. — Marsh Harrier [Eohrweihe]. 

FALCO RUFUS, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Lung-beanecl hoafk = Long-legged Hawk. 

Falco rufiis. Naumann, i. 378. 

Marsh Harrier. Dresser, v. 415. 

Busard harpaye. Temniinck, Manuel, i. 69, iii. 39. 

This species, also, belongs to those occurring very rarely in 
Heligoland ; though there seems to be no particular reason for 
this, as it occurs as a common breeding bird in the reed-marshes 
of Holstein on the west. I have only once received an old male, 
thirty-nine years ago. Later, three young summer birds were shot 
here. The latter made their appearance at the end of August, the 
old male bird on the 6th of October 1848. 

This Harrier is a resident breeding bird from western Europe 
to central Asia. On the north it extends only a short distance 
beyond the Baltic. In Norway only isolated examples have been 
met with, but in southern Sweden scattered individuals have 
been found nesting. 

25. — Hen Harrier [Kornweihe]. 
FALCO CYANEUS, Linn.^ 

Heligolandish : Blii hoafk = Blue HawJc. 

Falco injgargxLS. Naumann, i. 391, xiii. 151 ; also Blasius, 

Nachtrdgc, 29. 
Hen Harrier. Dresser, v. 43 1 . 

Busard St. Martin. Temminck, Manuel, i. 72, iii. 41. 

During all the time I have been collecting, only three old males 
of this species have been shot, also an old female, and two or 

' Circtis aruginosus (Linn.). - Circus ryanms, (Linn.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 189 

three young autumn birds. Of these, the latter were shot m late 
autumn, but the two old males, strange to say, in the winter, 
during snowstorms and frosts. 

This bird occurs as a breeding species throughout the whole of 
central and northern Europe and Asia, even beyond the Arctic 
circle. Wolley found a nest in Lapland as far north as 68° N. 
latitude. 

The very scanty appearance of this bird in Heligoland seems 
also to point to a very narrowly confined southern line of their 
autumn migration ; for the least westerly deviation from such a 
line on the part of the birds nesting in upper Norway, both as 
regards the old birds and their young, would not fail to carry them 
frequently across to Heligoland. 



26. — Pallid Harrier [Steppenweihe]. 
FALCO PALLIDUS, Sykes.i 

Falco pallidus. Naumann, xiii. 154; liici. Blasius, 

Nachtriige, 31. 
Pallid Harrier. Dresser, v. 441. 
Busard blafard. Temminck, Manuel, iv. 594. 

My collection contains only one young autumn bird of this 
species. It was shot on the 12th of August 1S.58 from among a 
flock of seven individuals, though it was impossible to determme 
whether all of these were young birds of this particular sjiecies. 
The lower parts of this bird are of a uniform ferruginous colour 
{rostroth), ^vithout spots, or any dark stripes on the shafts of the 
feathers. In the fresh plumage this colour was suffused with a 
beautiful coppery red. The outer great covert-feathers of the 
carpal joint nearly project above the notch on the inner web of 
the first flight-feather. This is the only authenticated instance 
of the occurrence of this species in Heligoland. I am, however, 
very much of the opinion that a bird shot here many years ago 
was really an old male of this species. At the time I considered 
it to be a young male Marsh Harrier in poor condition, and did 
not trouble to secure it. 

The Pallid Harrier is a resident breeding bird in central and 
southern Europe and Asia ; but it seems to occur much more 
numerously in eastern Europe than in the west of that 
continent. 

' Circus sivaiiisoni. Smith. 



190 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

27. — Montagu's Harrier [Wiesenweihe]. 
FALCO CINERACEUS, Montagu.^ 

Falco cineraceiis. Naumaun, i. 402, xiii. 165 ; ibid. Blasius, 

Nachtraije, 2,2,- 
Montagu's Harrier. Dresser, v. 423. 
Bnsard Moiitugu. Temniinck, Manvel, i. 76, iii. 42. 

This Harrier is also of very rare occurrence. Reyniors only once 
possessed an old bird. Claus Aeuckens saw one on the 5th of 
November 1852, and afterward.s two very pretty young summer 
birds were shot, both of which are in my collection. The extremely 
isolated occurrence of this species is equally surprising, since it 
breeds, if not abundantly, in Holstein and on the Lower Weser. 
The reason of its rarity in Heligoland is no doubt only to be ex- 
plained as the result of an autumn migration on a rigidly confined 
southerly line of flight. 

Heligoland is indeed a by no means inviting locality for birds 
of the habits and mode of life of the Harriers. Hence it is 
interesting to see how on this island each of those species manages 
to find out the spots most suitable to its character. Thus the 
Marsh Harrier was shot in the long sand lyme-grass {Elymus 
arenarms, Linn.), which grows so abundantly on Sandy Island ; 
while all the smaller species resort to the sole, insignificant piece 
of fresh water on the island. This consists of a natural depression, 
which stretches across the plain of the plateau. At the lower part 
of this depression the thin layer of soil which overlies the rock was 
removed and heaped up into a dam, a primitive kind of reservoir 
for rain-water bemg thus constituted, which at times contains 
several feet of water, and is about fifty paces in diameter. Almost 
every Harrier, without exception, passes over this depression, 
and if one happens to be seen, Aeuckens forthwith makes his 
appearance on the spot, and usually returns successful from his 
expedition. Montagu's Harrier breeds in temperate and southern 
Europe and Asia, but only rarely passes across the Baltic, and in 
southern Sweden has been seen only once or twice. Irby found it 
nesting abundantly in Morocco, and it seems to breed also most 
abundantly in the low-lying districts of Spain. 



Genufi Strix — The Chd. — Of the hundred and ninety species of 
Nocturnal Birds of Prey which — according to Sharpe's statement 
(Catalogue of Birds of British Museum) — are distributed over the 

' Circus cineracetu (Mont. ). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 191 

whole earth, Europe possesses only the small number of fifteen, 
nine of which are represented in Heligoland ; with the exception, 
however, of the Short- and Long-eared Owl, none of them have 
been met with on more than one or two occasions. 

28. — Tawny Owl [Waldkauz]. 
STRIX ALU CO, Linn.i 

Strix aluco. Naumann, i. 473. 

Tawny Owl. Dresser, v. 271. 

Chouette houlelte. Teniminck, Manuel, i. 89, iii. 48. 

The (German) name of this species ( = Wood-Owl) is sufficient 
to show that a place bare of trees like Heligoland is not a suitable 
place of residence for it : this has indeed proved to be the fact, for 
the bird has only been seen and shot here once. The example was 
in Reymers' possession, and being one of his earliest attempts in 
taxidermy, left much to be desired; when I received it, it was 
already far gone, and finally went to ruin altogether. Such, mdeed, 
during my earlier years, from want of experience, happened to me 
in regard to many a bird, which I had thought I might easily 
replace by a better example, but which I never succeeded in 
obtaining again. 

This Owl nests more or less numerously throughout the whole 
of Europe, and even across the Ural into western Asia, though only 
scattei'ed individuals are met with on this island. 

29. — Barn Owl [Schleierkauz]. 
• STRIX FLAMMEA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Schleier-iihl = Veiled Owl. 
Strix flammea. Naumann, i. 485. 
Barn Owl. Dresser, v. 237. 

Chouette effraie. Teraininck, Manuel, i. 91, iii. 48. 

In general, only very isolated examples of this pretty Owl visit 
Heligoland ; in fact, one can hardly coimt on obtaining more than 
one specimen in the course of each year. October 1876 formed 
a remarkable exception, ten or eleven birds having been seen 
and, for the most part, shot. During September and October of 
that year a very strong migration of Eastern species, such as 
Sylvia superciliosa, Anthiis richardi, and others, took place ; 
Common Jays also occurring in immense quantities, which is 
only the case when a very strong migratory movement from the 
direction of eastern Asia takes place. 

' Syrnium aluco (Linn.). 



192 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

It would appear, accordingly, that iu this instance the birds, 
the normal migration of which is undoubtedly directed south, were 
influenced by the prevailing conditions of the weather, or carried 
along with the general stream of migrants, so that in this particular 
year they, in part at least, migrated to the west, such a deviation 
from the normal line of migration-flight occurring frequently in the 
case of many other Eastern species. Moreover, the general geo- 
graphical distribution of this Owl will account for its rare occurrence 
in Heligoland : the species, in fact, scarcely extends beyond the 
Baltic, and only isolated examples reach the south of Sweden. 

The Barn Owl inhabits all temperate and hot regions of the 
earth. Attempts have been made to separate this species into 
about a dozen different species, according to its hghter or darker 
coloration, or the somewhat .slight deviations which individual birds 
present from the other members of the group ; but Sharjae — who at 
the British Museum has at his disposal for examination and com- 
parison the largest possible amount of material — is of opinion that 
such a separation does not appear justified, and has kept all the 
varieties and colour-stages under the old Lmnean name, Strix 
flammea. (See Catalogue of Birds of the British Museum, ii. 
p. 291.) In this view he has also been joined by Dresser. 

With the exception of one example in my collection, all the 
other specimens of this Owl which have been met with on the 
island had their upper and lower parts of a dull rust colour ; the 
grey markings of the upper parts were of a very dark colour, and 
the small spots of the lower parts were very abundant and well 
defined. The exceptional specimen, however, above referred to, has 
the feathers of the head, back, wings, and tail of a beautiful light 
and pure rusty yellow (rosfgelb). The characteristic grey markings 
are very light and thinly laid on, while the under side of the bird is 
of quite light whity rust-yellow {iceisslich rostgelh), with oidy a few 
scattered, scarcely perceptible dark spots at the sides of the breast. 
The facial disk is quite white. I regard this clean and handsomely 
coloured specimen as a very old bird, the other individuals, gene- 
rally of a more sombre-coloured plumage, as young autumn birds. 

30.— Little Owl [Steinkauz]. 
STRIX NOCTUA, Retz. 

Strix noclna. Naumann, i. 493. 

Little Owl. Dresser, v. 357. 

Chouette cheveche. Temminck, Manuel, i. 94, iii. 49. 

I may repeat in regard to this species, what I have already 
stated concerning the Tawny Owl : I received a very much decayed 



THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 193 

example many years ago from Reymers which he had shot a long 
time before. Since that time, no liird of this species has been seen 
on the island. 

This small Owl i.s a resident breeding bird in the temperate 
parts and the extreme south of Europe, in which latter region it 
is particularly abundant ; it appears only once to have reached the 
south of Sweden, but, according to Dresser, nests fairly abundantl}' 
in .lutland. Moreover, from the fact that the bird has been seen 
in England only a few times, one might conclude that it was afraid 
of crossing the sea. Its autumn migi-ation, too, hke that of others 
of its congeners, must take place in a southerly direction, as, if 
it deviated in any wa}- to the west, it could not fail frequently to 
reach Heligoland from Jutland. 

31. — Tengm aim's Owl [Texgmalms Kauz]. 

STRIX TENGMALMI, Gmelin.^ 

Heligolandish : Kauken-uhl = /Sco2.'s Oul. 

IStrix Tengmalmi. NaumanD, i. 500. 

Tengmalm's Owl. Dresser, t. 319. 

Chouette Tengmahn. Temminck, Manuel, i. 94, iii. 49. 

During all the time I have been collecting, this small and 
pretty Owl with its soft, silky plumage has been seen here at least 
thirty times, and has been shot also in most of these instances. It 
has undoubtedly occurred, however, here on many other occasions, 
but owing to its shy and retired nature, has failed to come under 
observation. In most cases, the birds seen in October were solitary 
specimens, though there are repeated instances of two, three, or 
even five birds having occurred in one day. Thus, on the 15th of 
October 1859, two of these birds were shot, and several others 
observed ; in fact, towards the evening of the same day, they became 
so numerous that the elder Aeuckens put up his snipe-net in the 
hope of catching Owls in it. He was, however, disappointed ; for 
these birds fly very cautiously, and can see very keenly in the dark, 
so that they probably always managed to discover the net in good 
time, and thus avoided being captured. 

An extraordinarily strong migration of eastern species, especially 
of Anthus richardi, took place on the above-named day : it had 
begim, in fact, in the middle of September — hundreds of Common 
Jays, too, were migrating daily, a phenomenon which, as 1 have had 
occasion to mention before, only takes place in autumn, and under 
such conditions of weather as influence a strong inrush from the 

' Kyctala te.mjmalmi (Ginel.). 
X 



194 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

far south, because otherwise the Common Jay is never seen here, 
not even in solitary instances. On the 5th of November 1S64, two 
of these Owls were shot ; two others were killed on the 24th of 
September ISfSl, whilst three or four individuals were seen on the 
same day. Isolated specimens have been seen in the interval 
between these dates, and the last examj^le recorded was observed 
in my garden on the 7th of October 1884. 

I have, on two occasions, kept this interesting little bird alive for 
several months, after which I sent the sjaecimens to the Zoological 
Gardens in London, but unfortunately with but poor success, the first 
example having died soon after its arrival in the Gardens, while the 
second is said to have tlown away during the sea voyage on board 
the steamer, although it was confined in a strong wooden box, with 
wooden bars nailed tightly and closely to one another in front. 

During their confinement, these Owls readilj' accepted dead 
birds, but refused the carcases of such as had been skinned: if 
however, before presenting the skinned birds I first turned them 
over among loose feathers, I managed to induce the Owls to partake 
of them. 

This species is a breeding bird in all the northern countries of 
Europe, Asia, and America, as far as 68" N. latitude. In England, 
according to Harting's statements, it has occurred twenty times 
up to the year 1872; this fact, combined with the extremely rare 
appearance of related species of the same genus, proves that the 
autumn migration of this species is not so rigidly confined to a 
southerly line as that of the former, but may, under favourable 
conditions, tend to deviate considerably to the west. 

32. — Long-eared Owl [Wald-Ohredle]. 
STRIX OTUS, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Hum iihl = Horn Old. 

Strix otiis. Naumann, i. 451. 

Long-eared Did. Dresser, v. 251. 

Hibou moyen-duc. Temminck, Manuel, i. 102, iii. 54. 

Although Heligoland has nothing to offer which might invite 
an inhabitant of the woods like this (Jwl to visit it, the bii-d is, 
nevertheless, well known to every gunner on the island. Under 
the most favourable conditions, however, scarcely more than three, 
or at most four, are likel}' to be met with in one daj' ; nevertheless, 
scattered as they occur, they are to be seen through the whole 
of late autumn up to the beginning of winter ; and again, though 

' Asio otitti (Linn.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 195 

in somewhat smaller numbers, during the early period of the spring 
migration when the weather is still inclement. 

That this bird is a frequenter of woods is very soon noticeable 
in the examples which are met with here, for they resort exclusively 
to the few bushes and shrubs found in the gardens between the 
houses. Thus, they seem to have a special preference for a strong 
and close thorn bush in my garden, which is from fifteen to 
eighteen feet high, and in which they sit the whole day motionless 
in the darkest possible corner, flying off at once when disturbed 
into the nearest thick shrub. Accordingly, it is often their fate to 
be caught in the throstle-bush. 

The Long- eared Owl occurs as a breeding species from western 
Europe to eastern Asia, but only isolated instances are known 
beyond 60° N. latitude. 

33. — Short-eared Owl [Su.mif-Ohreule]. 
STRIX BRACHYOTUS, Forster.i 

Heligoliindish: Vbl = Owl. 

Strix brachyotus. Naumann, i. 459. 

Short-eared Owl. Dresser, v. 257. 

Hibou brachyote. Temminck, Manuel, i. 99, iii. 51. 

This is by far the most numerously-represented species of all 
the Owls occurring in Heligoland. It is a quite common daily 
occurrence during the spring migration right into May, and is also 
very common in autumn throughout September and October. 
Although the bird shows no particular inclination for society, it 
is by no means unusual to rouse, early in the morning, a company 
of twenty or more from a field, forty by fifteen paces in extent, 
which may happen to be lying fallow and to be covered with a 
dense growth of wild mustard. 

Besides frequenting ploughed fields and the sand oats - of the 
Dune, these Owls also show a preference for small corners or pro- 
jections of the cliff, where, if left undisturbed, they wiU stay the 
whole day. I remember, very late one beautifully calm May after- 
noon — on which I had made a good bag at the bottom of the West 
Cliff — shooting with my rifle six of these birds who were sitting out 
of range of small shot on the face of the clift' at a height of from 
one hundred and sixtyto one hundred and eighty feet. Count- 
less Goatsuckers were likewise dozing on this bright warm day 
among the stones and shingle of the foreshore on that part of the 
island. 

' Elymus arenarhis. v. former note under No. 27. - .46^0 accipitrinus (Pall.). 



196 THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

The Heligolanders pursue this bird very zealously, and assert 
that, roasted, they furnish the finest dish a man could wish for. 
The birds are, as a rule, prett}' fat, and their white flesh certainly 
looks very tender and appetising. Naumann mentions the Marmot 
as the largest quadruped which forms the food of this species : it 
will therefore be of interest to report that, under certain circum- 
stances, this Owl will also attack wild rabbits. Early one autumn 
morning, at the time of the Snipe migration, Old Oelk and myself 
were not a little surprised to find, lying close together on the smooth 
sand of a sandhill, the bloody remains of three freshlj'-killed wild 
rabbits. In the immediate neighbourhood we shot afterwards five 
Short-eared Owls, the contents of whose full3--distended crops, on 
examination, proved them to be members of the band of robbers to 
whom the poor rabbits had fallen a prey. This belief was further 
confirmed by the footprints of the Owls which covered the smooth 
sandy surface on which the remains of the rabbits were discovei'ed. 
All the flesh had been peeled off from the skins of the rabbits : 
these lay spread out with the hairy surface underneath, and there 
remained adherina; to them nothing but the skull, the backbone, 
and the larger bones, all with the flesh completely and cleanly 
eaten ofl". These remnants and the blood-marks were too fresh 
to have been left from the previous day ; nor could we susj^ect 
any other bird of prey to have perpeti'ated the deed, for when 
we came to the spot it wanted at least still another hour to 
sunset. 

During dark autumn nights, when a strong migration is in 
progress, and Larks, Thrushes, and other species swarm round the 
lighthouse in great numbers, this Owl may very often be seen dart- 
ing up suddenly from the surrounding darkness into the glaring 
light of the lantern, and with dexterous beatings of the wings 
disappearing again with equal rapidity. Immediately afterwards, 
the plaintive cry of a Thrush announces with what certainty this 
robber plies his trade in the course of his nocturnal flight. 

In connection with this bird I should like here to record a 
funny little story. Of the many descendants of Nimrod who visit 
this island every season, one has for several years been in the 
habit of regularly going round the clifl' in a boat for purposes of 
slaughter. One day, while thus engaged, a Sparrow-hawk happened 
to fly past the face of the clifl'. Our sportsman promptly fired : 
but, what did not greatly surprise the attendant boatmen, failed to 
hit his bird. Great, however, was everybody's astonishment to see 
an Owl, which had been sitting on the cliff unobserved, drop down 
suddenly, dead as a door-nail. 

The Short-eared Owl breeds in central and northern Europe, 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 197 

and in Scandinavia up to 70° N. latitude. Its breeding range 
extends within the same parallels of latitude through the whole 
of Asia; and, again, from Alaska through the whole of North 
America as far as Greenland. But the bird is also found as a 
breeding species in South America, in Chili, La Plata, Patagonia, 
and on the Falkland Islands. 

34.— Scops Owl [Zweugohreule]. 

STRIX SCOPS, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Lutj Kaukeii-uhl = iiH/c Scops Owl. 

Strix Scops. Naumann, i. 466. 

Scops Otol. Dresser, v. 329. 

Hibou Scops. Temminck, Manuel, i. 103, iii. 54. 

Only once— on the 16th of May 1862— have I succeeded in 
obtaining this small, pretty miniature Owl on the island ; nor do I 
think that either before or since has another example been met 
with. At all events, no second bird of this species has been either 
caught or shot here. In fact, we can hardly expect to meet with 
this small bird frequently on the island, considering that it breeds 
in southern Europe, Asia Minor, Palestine, Persia, and Turkestan. 
In the north, its breeding range only very rarely advances beyond 
southern Germany and central Russia. 

35. — Snowy Owl [Schneeeule]. 

STRIX NYCTEA, Linn.^ 

Heligolandish: Snee-iihl = /SiJio!« Owl. 

Strix nyctea. Naumann, i. 417. 

Snowy Owl. Dresser, v. 287. 

Chouette harfang. Temminck, Manuel, i. 82, iii. 45. 

This magnificent Owl has been shot here only once, viz. : — in 
the autumn of 1839 or '40. The bird was sitting flat on a plot of 
ploughed land, so that the sportsman, who was looking for Snipe, 
took it for a white cat and paid no further attention to it. One 
may imagine his astonishment on seeing the supposed mouser 
spreading his wings and flying off in the shape of a splendid large 
white bird. Fortunately, it did not fly very far, for, it having again 
alighted, he was able to shoot it. It was a beautiful example, 
with but few spots. In the following summer it was sold to a 
visitor, and its subsequent destination is unknown to me. In 

' Scops giu (Scop. ). - Nyctea scandiaca (Linn. ). 



19a THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Reymers' time, one of these Owls was found sitting on the rock 
during a severe winter ; it was not, however, shot. About thirty 
years ago, an inhabitant, who was no sportsman, informed me that 
he had seen a large white Gull without a head flying about on 
Sandy Island. Undoubtedly this was a Snowy Owl. This is all 
that can be recorded of this imposing bird, so far as this island is 
concerned. This poverty of records, however, is strange in regard 
to a species which, in northern Scandinavia, belongs to the common 
breeding species, and occurs pretty frequently in England, and 
annually in Scotland. Moreover, it is a plentiful winter visitant 
in the Baltic Provinces, sixty individuals having actually in one 
— of course exceptional — case, been shot during the winter months 
of 1858-59 in the neighbourhood of Konigsberg. 

The breeding range of the Snowy Owl extends over all Arctic 
districts of the Northern Hemisphere. Feilden met with it in 
Grinnell Land in as high a latitude as 82° 40' N. latitude, and found 
their nests in 82" 33'. He states that tliej' nest very numerously 
at Discovery Bay, latitude 81° 44' N. 



36. — Hawk Owl [Habicht Eule]. 
STRIX NISORIA, Wolfi 

Strix nisnria. Naumann, i. 427. 

Hawk Owl. Dresser, v. 301. 

Chouette caparacoch. Temminck, Manud, i. 86, iii. 47. 

As regards the last species here recorded, I have in conclusion 
to state that it, like several of its relatives, has only been shot here 
once. This example was stuffed in the thirties bj' ' old Koopmaun," 
the first taxidermist on Heligoland, who sold it and sent it to 
Hamburg. Since that time the Owl has been seen here twice, but 
has never again been shot. 

The species breeds from Norway to Kamtschatka, and if, as 
Alfred Newton thinks, the Hawk Owls inhabiting America are not 
specitically distinct from those of the Old World, it nests in that 
part of the world also from Alaska to Newfoundland. 

Dresser, however, separates them as two independent species — 
the European (Sarnia ulula), and the American {S. funerea). 

' Snrnia v/ti/a (Linn.). 



SONG-BIRDS 

OSCINES. 

Raven — Cm-vus. — The great family of the Corvidse, embracing 
about two hundred species (Seebohm), most of which contain large 
numbers of individuals, is distributed almost over the whole earth. 
Of the thirteen species resident in Europe, eleven have, up to the 
present, visited Heligoland. 

37.— Common Raven [Kolkrabe]. 

CORVUS CORAX, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Groot Eoab = Great Raven. 

Corvus corax. Nauniann, ii. 43. 
Common Raven. Dresser, iv. 567. 
Corbeau noir. Temminck, Manuel, i. 107, iii. 55. 

Onlj' one example of this species has been killed here, having 
been shot by me on Sandy Island, late in the autumn of 1841. A 
boat, laden with provisions, belonging to a resident of Heligoland, 
had happened at this time to run aground on the sandbank of the 
Dune, and its cargo, among which were a number of quarters of 
beef and some carcases of sheep, was scattered about on the I'eef. 
Now it is quite possible that the Raven passes over the island 
frequently, but at such a height as to be beyond the range of 
observation, and that this particular individual, having inanaged 
by means of one or other of its highly-developed senses to discover 
the rich meal spread out beneath it, descended in this instance 
to its own destruction. Or the bird may have been led hither by 
mere accident. In any case, it is one of those species which have 
been observed here in only very rare instances. Since the date 
mentioned, only two other examples have been observed. One of 
these was shot at by Aeuckens; unfortunately, howevei', he 
succeeded no further than in wounding the bird, which fell into the 
sea, too far off the shore to be recovered. 



200 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

The example shot by me is contained in the University Museum 
of Lund. As I was not collecting at the time, I gave the bird to 
Old Oelk. He stuffed it and sold it to a certain Herr von Gyllen- 
krog, from Sweden, by whose will it was transferred, with the rest 
of his collection, to the above-named museum. 

This bird is distributed as a scattered breeding species over 
Europe, Asia, and North America. The range of its breeding 
zone is most remarkable and without a parallel, stretching from 
southern Spain and Portugal to very near the North Pole. 
According to Captain Feilden's report, a pair was found nesting 
on the rocks of Cape Lupton, as far north as lat. 81° 44', during 
the Alert and Discovery Expedition under Sir G. Nares, 1875 to 
1876. 

38.— Carrion Crow [Eaben-Keahe]. 

CORVUS CORONE, Linn. 
Heligolandish : Swart KTei\i = Black Crow. 

Corvus corone. Naumann, ii. 54. 
Carrion Crow. Dresser, iv. 531. 

Corneille noire. Temminck, Manuel, i. 108, iii. 558. 

Among the countless flocks of Hooded Crows which pass across 
Heligoland during the two migration periods, an individual of the 
present species is of rare occurrence, and it is so exceptional to shoot 
one, that for a number of years now I have been endeavouring to 
obtain a good old examjjle for my collection. 

At various times the view has been expressed, that birds resem- 
bling each other in form, and only presenting differences in their 
general coloration or the colour of single separate parts of the 
body, are not to be regarded as separate and independent species, 
as in the case, for instance, of the Black and Hooded Crows, the 
Black and Grey-backed Wagtails, many Pipits, and even Plovers. 
In support of this view, the well-known fact of general pairing 
taking place between these Crows, with the production of fertile 
hybrid ofispring, has been brought forward. 

The very circumstance, however, that despite pairing having 
taken place for several thousands of years, the two colours of the 
respective species have remained jjure and distinct, forms the most 
striking proof of the specific independence of the two ; for, if they 
had not existed originally as two fixed primary forms, to which the 
mongrel ofispring reverted, though this may have occurred only 
after several generations, we should at present know neither the 
one species nor the other in its pure simple coloration, but should 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 201 

meet only with unlimited gradational stages of mixtures of grey 
and black forms. 

Such an instance is in fact supplied by the liiu&{Tringa pugnax). 
The individuals of this species present in their plumage so endless 
a change of combinations of rust-red and black and white, that it is 
literally impossible, among hundreds of these birds, to find two 
exactly like each other, while what would appear to be primary 
forms of the rust-red, white and black individuals, are among the 
greatest rarities. 

I assume the primary form of Tringa pugnax to have been of 
rust-red colour; that, as is the case with most birds, more or 
less white-coloured individuals were frequently produced — as, for 
instance, males with a white ruff— and that a black variety was 
evolved by the pairing of a rust-red bird with a white one. In 
this view I am supported by my own exjjerience when I was 
breeding Cochin-China fowls. I possessed a number of beautiful 
fowls of this variety in their original buft" (rostgelb) colour, and 
by accident obtained a hen quite normal in form but of a pure 
white. By crossing this hen with a buff (rostgelb) cock, I obtained, 
greatly to my surprise, a greater or less number of black descend- 
ants, ^lany of the young birds were almost quite black ; in others 
the buff {rostgelb) feathers were only tipped with black ; in the case 
of the cocks, the black colour had a very intense steel-blue gloss. I 
repeated these experiments for about four or five years, always 
with the same result ; after which I got rid of the white fowl, as 
I prefer to keep only one species, and to maintain that as pure as 
possible. 

The Carrion Crow as a breeding bird is somewhat unequally 
distributed from the extreme west of Europe to the extreme east of 
Asia : however, it does not extend so far north as its grey relative ; 
thus it is not met with in Scandinavia. According to Seebohm it 
occurs most numerously in eastern Asia, from the Jenesei to Japan. 

39. — Hooded Crow [Gkaue Krahe]. 

CORVUS COENIX, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Kreih = Crow. 

Corvus comix. Naumann, ii. p. 65. 

Hooded Crow. Dresser, iv. 

Comeille mantelee. Temminck, Manuel, i. p. 109, iii. p. 59. 

As has already been indicated in the case of the preceding 
species, the Hooded Crow is seen here in great numbers during the 
two migratory periods of the year ; and more especially during the 



202 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

autumn months passes by and across the island in truly astonish- 
ing quantities. In the autumn, and with favourable weather, the 
migration commences at about eight o'clock in the morning, with 
flocks of from fifty to one hundred individuals ; the movement soon 
passes into a stream of flocks, consisting of from a hundred to at least 
live hundred examples, and continues in this manner, without gaps 
of any kind, until two o'clock in the afternoon. We can scarcely, 
in a case of this kind, assume that we are dealing with a stream or 
route of migration which just chances to cross Heligoland, for the 
movement proceeds in equal magnitude from east to west as far as 
the eye can reach. Jlore than this, on days when powerful migra- 
tions of this kmd take place, the migration-front or column has 
been seen from boats eight miles north of the island to stretch 
farther to the north, as far as the limits of vision extend : while on 
the south it reached, siniultaneousl}- and in equal magnitude, up 
the Weser, at least as far as Bremerhaven, as was determined from 
the steamer which regularly plies between this island and the latter 
place. We thus get a migration-column of at least thirty-six 
geographical miles in breadth. 

What has just been stated is not only of the highest interest on 
its own account, but exposes in a very clear light the theory of 
migration by coast-routes, which has obtained so much favour 
among ornithologists. Any supporter of this theory, if stationed 
on any one of the East Frisian Islands from Wangeroog to Borkum, 
on a day like that described above, would regard and report all 
he was able to see fi-oiu the shores of these islands as a most strik- 
ing proof of his hypothesis, not suspecting in the least that the 
migi-ation-column extended really from thirty-two to fortj- miles 
from the shore farther towards the north. 

The autumn migration of this Crow commences at the end of 
September, and lasts until the close of November; but scattered 
flocks are by no means rare, even in the middle of December. 
This bird is not so fastidious in the choice of weather for its 
journey as are many other species, — which, during some migration 
periods, are hardly ever seen — but is invariably present in large 
numbers, often in astonishing quantities: such, for instance, accord- 
mg to my diary, was the case in 1884. The first flocks were 
seen on the 2nd of October ; from that date very large numbers 
passed almost daily; ' thousands ' on the 14th; ' enormously large 
numbers' on the 21st ; on the 24th, 'enormously large numbers of 
C. comix, monedula, frugilegus, during a light south-east wind, 
and clear, beautiful weather, comix and monedula travelling in 
mixed uninterrupted flights, lasting from ten to twelve minutes, 
and again in similar flights after a short interval the speed of their 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 203 

flight being one hundred and eight geographical miles per hour — 
the flights being thus from sixteen to twenty geographical miles 
in length, and their breadth equal the distance from north and 
south to which either the naked ej'e or the telescope was able to 
reach.' It is impossible to make even an approximate estimate 
of the numbers of individuals making up a migration of this kind, 
even if one assumed that the migration-column, like that observed 
above, did not exceed thirty-six or forty miles. At the same time 
an extraordinary strong migration was observed taking place over 
the North Sea, on the eastern coast of England and Scotland up 
to the Orkney and Shetland Islands : how far this migration may 
have extended to the south I have been unable to ascertain. 

An exceptional circumstance, moreover, connected with the 
above-named autumn mio-ration, was that the hosts of migrants 
continued to pass the island even late into the afternoon, and a 
similar phenomenon was observed on the British coast; the 
'Report on the Migration of Birds for 1S84,' says: 'the rush- 
appears to have been continuous night and day.' 

The same observation was made here and on the estuary of the 
Humber, exactly opposite this island, on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of 
jS'ovember of the same year. In other instances, as already stated, 
the autumn migration always comes to an end at two o'clock in 
the afternoon, and flocks of hundreds or more arriving after this 
hour are a rare occurrence. Such late passengers usually fly round 
the island until evening, when they land and pass the night on any 
suitable spots. A flock of such birds was once met with by a 
resident on the plam of the upper plateau during the night. He 
killed one hundred and eighty-four of them — a welcome windfall 
for his larder, for the bird forms a favourite dish here. 

In contrast with the autumn migration, the spring passage of the 
Hooded Crow presents us with one of those wonderful phenomena 
in which the migration of birds so richly abounds. We have just 
cited an instance in which these birds evidently passed across the 
North Sea in the dark ; such occurrences are, however, — in my 
experience at least — decidedly rare. In the darkness of night the 
Hooded Crow is a completely helpless creature ; and, accordingly, 
on the short days of autumn it departs here in the afternoon, and 
continues its journey as long as there is enough daylight for it to 
reach the coast of England. For this passage it requires about 
three hours. In the spring, on the other hand, on their return 
from England, the flocks not only continue to arrive after sunset, 
but pursue their journey without stopping, as though aU knew 
exactly that a flight of another quarter or half-hour would convey 
them to a safe resting-place close by in Schleswig-Holstein ; never- 



204 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

theless it is hard to believe that this bird possesses so accurate a 
memory of the stretches of land and water traversed in the preced- 
ing autumn as would be necessary to enable it to again map out 
correctly the various stretches of road to be covered each day in the 
opposite direction, and under totally different conditions. 

The statement made above, as to three hours being the time 
required by this Crow to fly across the North Sea from this island 
to the English coast, is based on observation : the earliest migrant 
columns, which left here at eight in the morning, having arrived on 
the opposite coast at eleven, while the last companies, departing 
here at two o'clock in the aftei'noon, arrived at tive p.m. The dis- 
tance is about three hundred and twenty geographical miles, giving 
a speed of flight of one hundred and eight geographical miles per 
hour. 

These Crows when migrating fly generally at a very inconsider- 
able height ; this is especially the case in autumn when the air is 
thick, and when they fly across the sea at a height of not greater than 
ten to fifteen feet from the surface. In the spring, on the other hand, 
they fly across the island generally at a height of from eighty to 
one hundred feet ; this, during fine and calm weather, being some- 
times increased to ten thousand feet or more. They are then only 
distinguishable with great effort, appearing no larger than very fine 
dust specks, our attention being attracted by their call-notes, more 
particularly those of the Jackdaws and Eooks. Frequently the 
voices of the Jackdaws, faint and yet distinct, reach us from a 
height so great that the eye is no longer able to discern the birds. 
I have observed that migrations, proceeding at such enormous 
elevations, invariably take place only on calm, sunny spring daj's, 
when the sky is almost uniformly covered by a bright, clear, 
immeasurably high stratum of cirrus clouds. At such times in 
those elevated regions, and at heights, perhaps, greater still, a 
poAverful migration must be in progress ; for not only is it possible 
to discover the above-named species, but one is almost invariabty 
able to hear in addition, from the far-off" heights above, the faint, 
but still clearly distinguishable cries of the Whimbrel, the Bar- 
tailed Godwit, and other species ; frequently, also, these birds may 
still be discerned by the eye as more cloudlets of fine dust ; often 
ao-ain, their far-off', but still faintly audible, cries alone betray their 
presence. 

The Hooded Crow migrates by preference in fair weather, light 
south-east winds, and a clear atmosphere ; during the autumn 
months, however, the wind out at sea freshens up very often almost 
to violence, while it is quite normal on the coast ; hence the Crows 
not infrequently are driven into a south-easterly air-current, which 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 205 

is too strong for the east-to-west movement of their migration- 
flight, and, coming obhquely from behind, greatly impedes their 
progress. This inconvenience they endeavour to meet by setting 
their head and body towards the south, so that the wind meets them 
oljliquely from in front on the left side ; the astonishing part of this 
maniL'uvre, however, is that they do not now move straight soutli, 
as one might naturally expect, but continue to move steadily, and 
with imdiminished speed, on their westerly course. This happens 
mostly at a height of from one hundred and fifty to two hundred 
feet above the island. It is a peculiar phenomenon that on 
autumn days, on which strong migrations of Hooded Crows take 
place, only isolated examples of Woodcocks are met with, or they are 
altogether absent, although, according to the opinion of the oldest 
and most experienced gunners and fowlers, wind and weather are in 
every way equallj- favoui'able to both species. Inasmuch as the 
Woodcocks make their ajjpearance quite early at dawn, while the 
first flights of the Crows do not arrive until eight o'clock, we can 
hard!}' conclude that the former birds entertain any objection to the 
latter, but we ought rather to assume that meteorological conditions 
of a nature too delicate to be recognised Ly human capacity restrain 
the Woodcocks from migrating on days like these, or, what is pro- 
bably more correct, cause them to travel at such heights as are 
beyond the bounds of our perception. Golden-crested Wrens, on 
the other hand, invariably migrate in company with the Crows, 
and mostly in very largo numbers ; and the native sportsman, who 
happens to bring home with him one of these tiny guests, will pro- 
l)abl3- tell his little boy that the Crows carried these pretty wee 
songsters over on their backs; but this merel}" by way of a joke, 
and by no means with that perfect seriousness with which people 
do not hesitate to dish up the fairy tale of the good big birds, who 
caiTy the weak little ones on their backs across the sea. 

Finally, I would add one further remark, as regards the position 
of these Crows in the economy of N ature. Everywhere the protection 
of birds creates the greatest interest, and man is always put in the 
foreground as the greatest enemy of the feathered creation. ' Now, 
although the destruction of song-birds and other small species, as 
it appears to be carried on in Italy, ought to be resisted by all 
possible means ; nevertheless all that is offered for sale, in the way 
of eggs and small birds, in Italy during one complete migration 
period, would scarcely equal the quantity of eggs and nestlings 
destro}ed by the Hooded Crows during one single summer day. 

It is, perhaps, true that the number of individuals of Hooded 
Crows liecomes nowhere apparent in such preponderating quantity 
as in Hehgoland, in consequence of which their destructive influence 



206 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

is under-estimated ; but if one had the opportunity of seeing the 
hosts of them which travel past diu'ing two months of autumn, in 
uninterrupted sequence, and return in the spring, as is the case here, 
where no tree, wood, or hill impedes the view : and if one at the same 
time remembers that all these fellows, impudent as they are cunning, 
do nothing else during the long summer days, from early dawn to 
sunset, but plunder the nests of other birds, from the Lark to the 
Eagle (Dresser), one would indeed wonder that there are still any 
buds, other than Hooded Crows, left in the world. By all means let 
us nurture and protect our little bird-friends in every possible 
manner, more especially by abstaining from destroying any small 
shrubbery or bush, the sole use of which may, perhaps, be that it 
affords some small songster a hidden nook for its nest ; above every- 
thing, however, let us aim at compassing the destruction of Hooded 
Crows unsparingly year in year out, by aU the means placed at our 
command. 

The Hooded Crow does not breed in western Europe, but its 
breeding area extends from Great Britain, Holland, Germany, and 
Scandinavia, through the whole of Asia and Europe, as far as the 
Lena ; it also nests, though less numerously, in north-eastern Africa. 

40.— The Rook [Sa.a.trahe]. 
CORVUS FRUGILEGUS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Groot swart Kauk = (rivaf Black Jackdaw. 

Corvus frugilegus. Nauinann, ii. 78. 

Boole. Dresser, iv. 551. 

Corheau Frcux. Temminck, Manuel, i. no, iii. 59. 

Though not visiting Heligoland in such immense numbers as 
the Hooded Crow, the Rook is nevertheless met with invariably in 
spring and autumn, often to the number of many thousands on one 
day. It is one of the earUest arrivals, and almost counts among the 
heralds of the reawakening migration. Thus in 1S.S5 the first flock 
of about one hundred individuals arrived as early as the 4th of 
February, during a southerly wind. This was succeeded by unfavour- 
able weather, lasting until the middle of the month, so that a second 
and also very large flock did not arrive until the 17th. On the 26th 
I find ' tens of thousands ' noted in my diary. The migration lasted 
till about the iniddle of April. As late as the 7th an ' enormous 
number,' and on the 9th ' verj' large numbers,' are recorded in my 
diary. These later visitors often become a great nuisance here, 
inasmuch as they pull the newly-planted potatoes out of the ground, 
and almost completely plunder many of the smaller fields. It is 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 207 

astonishing how exact they are in discovering the particular 
potatoes that have not 3'et sprouted, or in some way or other pick 
out the spot where they are buried in the ground to a depth of 
about three inches. The birds do not by any means rummage 
about till they find a potato, but dig their beaks exactly into the 
spot where one is buried. They appear, therefore, merely to be 
guided by an extremely keen sense of smell. In the autumn this 
sjx'cies continues to pass through this island till very late in the 
season, sometimes even after frosty weather has set in. Contrary to 
the habit of the preceding species, which alights here only in excep- 
tional cases, the Rook very frequently interrupts its journey on this 
island, the flocks dispersing over the upper plateau of the rock in 
search of food. But, Hke the preceding species, and perhaps in a 
greater degree still, flocks amounting to thousands in number, may 
be seen on fine calm spring days passing across the island at such 
a height that they appear no larger than very minute specks. Often 
indeed they entirely disappear from sight, and only their calls, still 
faintly audible from above, give indication of the vast crowd of 
wanderers speeding on their way at heights far above the range of 
human vision. 

The breeding range of the Rook extends from England and 
northern France, through Germany, up to central Scandinavia, and 
in the same latitude through and beyond central Asia. 

41. — Jackdaw [Dohle]. 

CORVUS MONEDULA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Kaiik. Name for Jackdaw. 

Corvus monedula. Naumann, ii. 93. 
Jackdaw. Dresser, iv. 523. 

Corbeau choucas. Temminck, Manuel, i. 1 1 1, iii. 60. 

This meriy little bird occurs here in greater or smaller com- 
panies during the two migration periods of the year. Frequently 
too it travels in swarms, numbering thousands of individuals, 
with which those of related species may or may not be mixed, 
at a great height past and across the island. Sometimes small 
companies make a day's stay, but in most cases they pursue 
their journey without taking any further notice of Heligoland. 
Frequently too a densely-crowded flock of from eighty to a hundred 
individuals will come rushing, at lightning speed, and at a low 
elevation, through the streets and among the hou.ses, disappearing 
again later on. At other times they may be seen sitting calmly, 
and crowded together in a row, on the weathercock of the church 



208 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

tower, or on the roof of the church, sunning themselves, and always 
appearing gay and in a cheerful humour. In two cases Jackdaws 
have occurred here in which the light spot at the side of the neck 
was almost quite white. 

The Jackdaw is a breeding species in the whole of Europe and in 
Asia, to about as far as the Jenesei. On the north it does not extend 
beyond central Scandinavia. 

42. — Magpie [Elstee], 

CORVUS PICA, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Heister = El$ter. 

Corvus pica. Nauinann, ii. loi. 

Magpie. Dresser, iv. 509. 

Pic. Temminck, Manud, i. 113, iii. 63. 

Our fellow-ornithologists of the neighbouring continent, who 
meet the Magpie at every step, probably have not the least idea 
that in Helisjoland, famed for its rich avian fauna, it is among 
the greatest rarities. Thus a bird like Wliite's Thrush (Turihis 
7xirius) has been shot here ten times as frequently. About fifty 
years ago old Oelk saw one of these birds here, but all his eftbrts at 
securing it were fruitless. The next case of its occurrence happened 
on the 11th of November 1876. As I was stepping out into my garden 
early on the morning of that day, I was no little surprised to see a 
Magpie fly up close by me. Not having a gun at hand, the bird, for 
the time being, was enabled to fly away, but was brought to me a 
quarter of an hour later by my eldest son, who had managed to 
shoot it. Thus the gap in my collection, so long left open by this 
common bird, was at last filled, and that too by a very fine old 
example. 

The Magpie breeds from Portugal to Kamtschatka, as also in 
the west of North America. In Finmark it is found breeding as 
high as 71° N. latitude. 



'o 



43. — Nutcracker [Nussheher]. 
CORVUS CARYOCATACTES, Linn.^ 

Corvus caryocatactcs. Nauinann, ii. 130. 

Nutcracker, Dresser, iv. 451. 

Cassenoix. Temminck, Manuel, i. 117, iii. 67. 

The Nutcracker is a very rare guest in Heligoland. Durmg the 
time I have been collecting, it has occurred and been killed here 
1 Pica 1-ustica (Scop.). ■ Xucifraga caryocatactcs (Linn.). 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 209 

only on three occasions. The first of these examples was killed by 
a boy with a stone at the end of August 184-i. The second bird 
was shot on the 17th of October 1.S53, and a third a few years later. 
All these birds were solitary individuals. This may seem specially 
surprising in the case of the first example, since this species 
appeared in almost unprecedented numbers during the autunm of 
the same year in Scandinavia, and also spread in considerable 
numbers over Germany. 

This apparent anomaly is probably exjjlained by the view 
already expressed in the chapter on the direction of the migratory 
flight, to the eflect : that a large number of birds travel, at the outset 
of their migrations, from east to west, but turn to the south on 
reaching Scandinavia. Others again, which have nested or been 
bred in less advanced northern latitudes, pursue their westerly 
course as far as England and Ireland before turninsr their flight 
of migration to the south. In the above instance, the extra- 
ordinary numbers of Nutcrackers which assembled in Scandinavia 
could only have reached that peninsula from the east. On their 
arrival in that country, however, their westerly movement must 
have come to a complete stop, for even if it had been much 
weakened, large numbers could not have failed to reach this island 
or the shores of England, whereas here only one example, and in 
the latter country only two examples, were met with. 

One of the birds I gave to Herr von Zittwitz, and it will most 
jDrobably be found in the Museum of Gtirlitz. 

This bird occurs as a resident breeding species from the 
mountains of Spain to Japan. Throughout this area, however, 
the nesting birds are only found scattered in pine and fir woods. 

44. — Common Jay [Eichelhehek]. 
CORVUS GLANDARIUS, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Hiiiiger = Jay. 

Corvus glandarius. Naumann, ii. 122. 

Common Jay. Dresser, iv. 48 1 . 

Geai glandivore. Teiiiuiinck, Manuel, i. 114, iii. 65. 

The appearances of this bird on this island are most irregular. 
Sometimes it occurs sporadically in extraordinary abundance, and, 
again, for a succession of years, no bird proves to be rarer. After 
an interval of from ten to fifteen years, in which not a single bird 
has been seen, there wiU suddenlj- appear a band of from ten to 
fifteen individuals. In some years the number rises to hundreds ; 

' Gari-uliii ylandariux (Linn.l. 
O 



210 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

and they have been known to appear in tens of thousands. A 
migration en masse of this nature occurred about twenty-five years 
ago, when so many of these birds were found in the autumn in the 
throstle-bushes, that they had to be carried away in large baskets. 
From that time and until 1876, one or two of the birds were 
met with only in extremely rare instances, as, for instance, three 
examples on the 10th of October. On the 21st of the same month, 
however, a powerful migration took place. A stiff easterly breeze 
Avas blowing on that day, and the air was clear. According to my 
diary, thousands of the birds flew across and past the island, and 
more than a hundred were shot and caught. 

Never, however, have these birds been seen in such enormous 
swarms as in October 1882. On the 6th of this month my diary 
contains the following entry : ' A stormy south-east wind ; weather 
clear. C. glandarius in hundreds ; Accentor in unprecedented 
numbers ; F. ccelebs and Anthus pratensis in hundreds of thou- 
sands.' On the 7th the entries are: 'Wind south-east, almost a 
storm ; weather clear. C. glamlarms travelling across the island 
uninterruptedly in hosts of thousands and millions; enormous 
numbers of Accentor, F. cwlebs, and A. j^ratensis.' On the 8th: 
' Wind S.E., freshening ; weather clear. C. glandarius in still 
greater numbers than on the day before; uninterrupted swarms, 
counting to thousands, passing across, as well as to north and south 
of the island. Birds never before seen in such enormous quantities.' 

Thus ended this great procession, in which the birds must 
have numbered millions. How so vast a number of individuals 
could have congregated in one great multitude is quite incompre- 
hensible. Since that year (1882) one soHtary example only has 
been seen. 

Powerful migrations of Jaj's occur only during the autinnn 
months, and then only with very strong east or south winds, and 
in clear weather. Misrrations en masse of Chaffinches and Meadow 
Pipits also take place during violent south-east winds. These, how- 
ever, are not dependent on clear weather, but proceed even when 
the sky is densely overclouded. 

The Common Jay occurs as a resident breeding bird throughout 
the whole of Europe as far as 64° N. latitude. On the east its 
range is said not to extend beyond the Ural, the bird being repre- 
sented in Asia by a distinct, but very similar species, C. hriindti. 
From our own experiences, however, of the occurrence of this bird, 
as related above, this statement would scarcely appear credible. 
The number of individuals observed within the field of vision on 
this island alone, during the three October da3's above mentioned, 
was so enormous as to be beyond all attempts at estimation, and 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 211 

even this number can only have constituted a fraction of the great 
host of migrants moving from east to west at that particular period. 
In fact, if we imagined the whole area between Memel and the Ural 
to be covered by one dense continuous forest, in which each tree 
bore a nest of these birds, all the broods of these would not have 
sufficed to furnish the material observed in this place on one only 
of the last of these October days. 

45. — Siberian Jay [Unglxjcks-Heher]. 
CORVUS INFAUSTUS, Linn.i 

Corvns infaustus. Nauniann, xiii. 214. 

Siberian Jay. Dresser, iv. 471. 

Geai imitateur. Temminck, Mamtel, 1 1 5, iii. 66. 

There is not much to report from Hehgoland in regard to this 
small peculiar bird. It is one of the few which I note here, not 
from my o\s-n observations, or on the strength of those of Reymers 
or Aeuckens. On the 14th of April 1849, a young gunner who 
daily brought me birds — sometimes very rare ones — saw one entirely 
unknown to him, but which he nevertheless described as a small 
Jay, sitting at a distance of a fevv- paces on a throstle-bush. He 
described the bird with gi-eat exactitude, and especially remarked 
that it had no blue on its wings, but instead thereof rust-red mark- 
ings. Unfortunately, he had not his gun at hand ; and after he had 
fetched it, the interesting stranger could no longer be found. 

This man who had been occupied working in the fields had 
had his attention aroused by the call-note of the bird, and told 
me that it was the ' most remarkable bird-note ' he had ever heard, 
for it was as much like the ' soft mewing of a cat' as the voice of a 
bird. The most westei'n nesting-places of this species lie in 
Scandinavia, between 60° and 70° N. latitude, and extend eastwards 
within the same parallels of latitude as far as Kamtschatka. 



46. — Alpine Chough [Alpenkrahe]. 
CORVUS PYRRHOCORAX, Linn.^ 

Corvus pyrrhocorax. Naumann, 107, xiii. 211 ; Blasius, Nachtrdge. 41. 

Alpine Chough. Dresser, iv. 445. 

Pyrrhocorax chocard. Temminck, Manuel, i. 124, iii. 68. 

During the earliest period of my collecting, I obtained here a very 
badly stuffed example of this specimen which dated from the earhest 

' Perisortus infaustus (Linn.). - Pyrrhocorax alpinus, Koch. 



212 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

infancy of local taxidermy : its feet being thickly painted ovei- with 
cinnabar. I gave it away again, nmch to my later regret ; and, 
I believe, it will be found in the Gorlitz Collection. On the 14th 
of September 1868 an Alpine Chough was again seen here, but was 
not shot ; and a few years later my eldest son saw two examples 
flying across the island out of gunshot-range, but still near enough 
for him to be able distinctly to recognise their yellow beaks. 

The Alpine Chough breeds in the higher mountain-ranges of 
Europe and Asia, at a height of from eight to fourteen thousand 
feet. 



47.— Red-billed Chough [Steinkrahe]. 
CORVUS GRACULUS, Linn.i 

Corvus gracuJus. Naumann, ii. 114, xiii. 212 ; Blasius, Nachtrage, 42. 

Red-billed Chough. Dresser, iv. 437. 

Pyrrhocorax coracias. Teniminck, Maunel, i. 122, iii. 69. 

During the many years that I have made observations on this 
island, this bird has only occurred twice, the first time in May 1871 
or 1872 — my journal for those two years unfortunately has been 
lost, so that I am unable to give the exact date— and the second 
time, on the 28th of March 1877. This latter example, throughout 
the whole day, repeatedly took rest for fairly long intervals on the 
weathercock of the church-tower, and exhibited his red beak to 
the admiration of everybody, and to the special annoyance of all 
gunners ; nevertheless, despite all eftbrts, it was not killed. 

The Red-billed Chousjh is a breeding bird from Portugal to 
China; in north-west Africa; and, in the north, on the rocky coasts 
of Great Britain. Its nests are invariably placed in high rocks. 



Shrike — Lanins. — This genus, which is very nearly related to the 
2>receding, especially to the Jays, comprises, according to Seebohm, 
about forty species, which are, in great part, inhabitants of the 
Old World. Six of these belong to Europe, while a seventh — 
L. borealis — has only within recent times extended its breeding 
range into eastern Eurojie ; and L. plinenicuroides can only be 
regarded as a casual visitant, one example having reached Heligo- 
land from central Asia, 

' Pyrrhocorax yracii/un ( Linn. ) 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 213 

48. — Great Grey Shrike [Grauer "Wurger]. 

LANIUS EXCUBITOR, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Groot Verwoahr-Fink = Great Nine-Killer. 

Lanitis excubitor. Naumann, ii. 7. 
Great Grey Shrike. Dresser, iii. 375. 
Pie gricche griese. Teinininck, Maiiiivl, i. 142, iii. 80. 

Only solitary examples of this stately bird are met with on 
Heligoland — they are specially rare in the spring — and I have only 
twice succeeded in obtaining birds in perfectly coloured plumage, 
with the under-sides pure white. It occurs somewhat more fre- 
quently during the autumn migration, but even then only solitary 
examples are met with. In a few instances I have seen the bird, 
even in winter during deep snow ; but they seem to be having a 
pretty hard time of it under these conditions, if I may judge from 
the behaviour of a particular individual, which, in the course of each 
day, used repeatedly to come to one of my windows which looked 
out upon the garden. In this window hung a cage containing a 
Goldfinch, and the greedy eyes with which the Shrike used to view 
the frightened captive, and the energetic attempts it made to 
get at it, gave clear evidence of the hunger-pangs which were 
tormenting it. 

This species is found nesting as far as northern Scandinavia 
and Russia; and its isolated appearance in Heligoland would, there- 
fore, seem to show that its autunm migration proceeds almost 
strictly on a line from north to south. In this respect it differs 
from the eastern species, L. horealis— major (Pallas), the more 
frequent occurrence of which would lead one to suppose that it 
was predisposed towards an east-to-west line of migration, a like 
tendency being exhibited by many other eastern species. 

This bird, though very cautious in general, is yet not unfre- 
quently caught in the throstle-bush ; that, however, such a fate is 
well deserved, is shown by the discovery of many a poor little 
Redbreast with its brains hacked out, the work of this ruthless 
aggressor. I have even on one occasion seen a Blackbird, as it was 
hastening along over the grass, pounced upon by one of these 
daring robbers, and succumb, after a short struggle, to the bites of 
his assailant. 

This species breeds in northern France, Germany, Scandinavia ; 
up to about 70' N. latitude, in European and the adjacent parts of 
Asiatic Russia, whence it seems gradually to be replaced by the 
following allied species, L. borealis. . 



214 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

49. — Pallas' Grey Shrike [Nordischee Wurger]. 
LANIUS BOREALIS, Yieillot. 

Heligolandish : Groot Verwoahr-Fink. 

Lanius horealis. Audubon, Syno])sis of the Birds of North America, 157. 
Lanius major. Pallas, Zoogr. Rosso-Asiat., i. 401. 

Pallas^ Grey Shrike. Seebohm, Brit. Birds, i. 595. 

This great Shrike is distinguished from the preceding closely- 
related species in that the great white marks on the wings are 
simple, and only extend over the ends of the roots of the primaries, 
the secondaries being of a uniform black throughout ; whereas in 
L. excubitor the roots of the secondaries are of white colour, so 
that duplex white spots are formed on the wings when in a state 
of rest. 

Similar phenomena are presented by these two species of Shrike, 
as have already been discussed in the case of the two nearlj'-related 
species of Crows — viz. the Carrion and Hooded Crows. In both 
cases we are dealing with an eastern and a western species, each of 
which oi'iginally occupied its own circumscribed area, but of which 
the eastern form, under the impidse to advance westwards, peculiar 
to many birds, traversed the limits of the western species, and by 
intermingling and jDairing with the latter, gave rise to the produc- 
tion of fertile hybrids. In the case of the Crows, the areas of the 
species concerned lay neai-er to each other — the home of the Carrion 
Crow comprising perhaps the eastern half of the Old World, and 
that of the Hooded Crow its central and western portions. In the 
case of the two species of Shrike, the phenomenon extended over 
an incomparably larger area, for there can hardly be any doubt that 
in this case the primary eastern form was the North American, 
L. horealis, and the western the EurojJean, L. excubitor. 

A similar case of a westward extension of the area of dis- 
tribution is presented by the Shore Lark, whose primeval home 
was imdoubtedly America, whence it advanced to Asia, and prose- 
cuting this movement in modern times, has pushed forward its 
breeding range into Europe. 

In Heligoland the Shore Lark was, until the year 1835, 
utterly unknown. It was not until the autumn of that year that 
Jan Aeuckens shot the first two or three examj)les of this bird 
that had ever been seen here. Soon, however, their numbers 
increased, and a specially large number forced their way to the 
island in the autumn of 1847, an unusually copious migi'ation from 
the far East having taken place during this month. Greater or 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 215 

smaller companies of Shore Larks were seen almost daily from 
the middle of October to the middle of November, and hundreds of 
them were shot. In the same year I obtained the first example of 
Laniiis borealis, an old male in full adult plumage. Since that 
time the Shore Larks have steadily increased here from year to 
year, and since the last ten years, at least, make their appearance in 
hundreds of thousands, so that during the autumn months and 
in favourable Aveather, flocks of from fifty to a hundred indi- 
viduals may be seen daily passing in uninterrupted sequence across 
and along the island, from early morning till afternoon ; nor does 
anybody any longer think it worth the trouble to shoot this charm- 
ing and formerly much-prized visitor. 

Since the same time, the Northern Shrike has also steadily 
increased here, though, as compared with the Shore Larks, its 
number is still a very modest one. Nor would one expect this to 
be otherwise, seeing that this, hke all other related species of the 
Shrike genus, number in general much fewer individuals than the 
various species of the Lark family, all of which are strikingly rich in 
individuals. 

We can hardly regard the advance of this Shrike as far as 
central Germany to be contemporaneous with its appearance in 
Heligoland, for its occurrence could never have escaped the notice 
of so eminent an observer as Naumann, who neither mentions it in 
his great work, nor in the supplements which were concluded about 
1855, and appeared as the thirteenth volume of the chief work in 
1860. Brehm mentions this species, as follows, in his Volhtdndiger 
Vogelfang aller EurojMischen Vogel : ^ 'It lives in northern Asia, 
whence it passes as a straggler into eastern Europe.' Accordingly, 
Brehm himself had not, until then, met with it in Germany. In 
Heligoland, however, even at that time it apjoeared regularly 
every autumn, and at jiresent one or more examples are seen 
almost daily, in favourable weather, from the middle of October to 
the middle of November. Thus, on the 22nd of October, twelve 
large Shrikes were seen here ; seven of these were shot, and proved, 
with the exception of one of L. excubitor, to be all pure-coloured 
examples of L. borealis. The former species in general occurs here 
much more rarely than L. borealis. During my long experience 
I have only obtained two old examples of L. excubitor with their 
under-sides of a jjure white ; whereas, aliiiost every autumn, one or 
two old examples of L. borealis in adult plumage, besides about ten 
or twelve females, younger birds and hybrids, more or less nearly 
related to L. borealis, are shot here. However, like all the Shrikes, 
this species also is a very cautious bird, which, on the bare surface 

' Complete Fovlin;/ of all Europea)i Binl-^. 



216 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of the rock, it is very liard to get at ; so that in most cases the birds 
are caught in the throstle-busli. 

The finest old male which I have obtained here has all its 
upper parts of an extraordinary light and jDure, almost whity-blue 
grey {^veisslich hlaugrau) colour; the terminal feathers of the 
rump and upper tail-coverts alone being in some degree still 
lighter. All the lower parts are pure white without any markings. 
The markings on the head, wings, and tail are of the purest 
and deepest black. Audubon, as well as Eichardson and Swain- 
son {Fauna Bor. Avi.), it is true, say that L. borealis and L. 
excuhitor are, with exception of the wing-markings, of exactly 
similar colour ; but it nevertheless appears, from their further de- 
scription, that even the old males of the former species never 
completely lose the very faint tinge of the dappled breast-markings 
of their early dress. Pallas also says of his L. major that the 
whitish breast is marked with the finest — tenuissiinis — grey undu- 
lated lines. Beautiful pure-coloured males, like that described 
above, occur, it is true, only in very isolated instances, jierhaps 
hardly one amongst fifty : moreover, it is well known that the oldest 
individuals are the shyest, and the most difficult to obtain. In 
spite of all this, however, one can hardly suppose that this type 
of plumage could have i-emained unluiown to the above-named 
observers if it had occurred within the area investigated by them. 
Is it perhaps possible that this dress attains to this perfection only 
in the western portion of the area inhabited by the species, and 
only in isolated examples of very advanced age ? 

The home of this species will have been ascertained from what 
has been said above : it has now also advanced as a breeding bird 
uito Scandinavia. 



50. — Southern Grey Shrike [Sudlicher Wuegee]. 
LANIUS MERIDIONALIS, Temminck. 

Southern Grey Shrike. Dresser, iii. 387. 

Pie grihhe miridionah. Temminck, Manuel, i. 143, iii. So. 

There is, in my collection, a large Shrike in which the white 
speculum only extends over the primaries. The bird is markedly 
smaller than both of the preceding, and all its u^jper parts, including 
the tail and upper tail-coverts, are of a very dark grey colour. 
Further, the breast of this specimen is not dappled with grey 
markings, its colour being a mixture of light cream and pink 
{hellcm isabell und rosa). From all these characters, I conclude 
the example to be one of L. meridionalis. The bird was shot in 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 217 

the spring, when southern and south-eastern species usually make 
their appearance here. 

This Shrike breeds in Portugal, Spain, and southern France. 
According to von der Miihle, solitary examples are said to breed 
also in Greece. 

51. — Lesser Grey Shrike [Schwaezstirxiger Wirger]. 
LANIUS MINOK, Linn. 
Heligokndish ; Swart-hoaded \eTv,-6Ahi6nk = Black-headed Shrike. 

Lanuis minor. Naumann, ii. 1 5. 

Lesser Grey Shrike. Dresser, iii. 393. 

Pie griechc a poitrine rose, Temminck, Manuel, i. 144, iii. 84. 
As one might expect, this Shrike, which only rarely passes 
beyond the northern limits of Germany, occurs in Heligoland only 
in extremely isolated instances. Some thirty or forty years ago, 
when May was usually a tine and warm month, one or two of 
these birds used to be seen here — if not every year, yet faudy 
fi'equently — they were, however, shot only on very rare occasions, 
as it is perhaps the shyest and most cautious species of the whole 
family. However, the raw and cold weather experienced almost 
annually during April and May since that time has kept the 
bird away from the island, besides many other interesting guests 
which, in former years, used to visit us in greater or less abund- 
ance. The last example of this species which has been seen 
here was shot by Aeuckens at the beginning of June 1887 : the 
one before this was seen in May 1883, but not killed ; and a 
young summer bird, the only example ever observed here in early 
plumage, was shot on the 23rd of July 1877. 

The nesting area of this species extends from France through 
south and central Europe, and within the same parallels of latitude, 
about as far as Central Asia. Only a few cases of the occurrence of 
isolated examples of this bird in England, Denmark, and Scandi- 
navia are known. 

52. — Woodchat Shrike [Rothkopfiger WDrger]. 

LANIUS RUFUS, Brisson. 
Heligolandish : Road-hoaded Verwoahrfink = Bed-headed Shrike. 
Lanius rnfxts. Naumann, ii. 22. 

Woodchat Shrike. Dresser, iii. 407. 
Pie gri'cche rovsse. Temminck, Manuel, L 146, iii. 82. 

This handsome Shrike is of still rarer occurrence in Heligoland 
than the preceding species ; in the course of the last forty years, 



218 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

only five examples have come into my hands — in all cases old 
males — which were shot on this island at the close of calm and 
warm days at the end of May or beginning of June. 

The rare occurrence of this species in Heligoland may be 
accounted for by the predominantly western situation of its breed- 
ing area. This extends, on the one side, from the west through 
the north of Africa to the Caspian ; and on the other side, through 
Spain and France, as far as north-eastern Germany. In England 
the bird is met with occasionally ; but it has not yet been observed 
in Scandinavia, nor is it included in Russow's list of the birds of 
Esthonia, Livonia, and Courland. 

53.— Red-backed Shrike [Rothruckiger WOrger]. 

LANIUS COLLURIO, Brisson. 

Heligolandish : Eoad-rbgged Verw6ahrfink = i?frf-taci<;d Shrike. 

Lanius coUurio. Naumann, ii. 30. 

Red-backed Shrike. Dresser, iii. 399. 

Fie griiche ccorcheur. Temmiack, Manuel, i. 147, iii. 82. 

This Shrike, which is distributed as a common breeding bird 
over the greater part of Europe and the whole of central Asia, was, 
until about thirty years ago, a very common occurrence in HeUgo- 
land during the fine warm days of April and May. 

Since the already-mentioned changes in the meteorological 
conditions of these months, however, only isolated instances of its 
occurrence have been recorded. It is a notable fact that old birds 
of this species are never seen here during the autumn migration ; 
not even m the earlier years when the birds still occurred in large 
numbers during the sjDring migration : on the other hand, young 
birds of the year {Sommervugel) are met with pretty often every 
year during their return passage. 

This Shrike, too, is as fierce a robber as its larger-sized kinsman. 
Not very long ago one of them bit off the head of a beautiful 
Goldfinch which was hanging up in a cage in my garden as a 
decoy-bird. It was a female, and I caught it immediately after the 
deed in a fowling-net ; the feathers of its upper breast, to which 
the fresh blood was still adhering, gave irrefutable evidence of the 
murderous act. 

The breeding area of this species extends not only over Europe 
and Asia, but, according to Dresser, also over south Africa. The 
birds inhabiting the latter region are residents, remaining in their 
homes throughout the whole of the year, undisturbed by the 
innumerable swarms of northern breeding birds arriving in this 
region every autumn, and departing again every spring. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 219 

54. — Cream-Coloured Shrike [Isabellfaebiger Wurgek]. 
LANIUS ISABELLINUS, Ehrenberg. 

Isabelline Shrike. Dresser, iii. 413. 

Lanius 2''Jt(enicurus. , Sewertzoff, Fauna of Turkestan, Ibis, 1876, 185-187. 

Specimens in the Berlin Museum belonging to this species are : — L. 
speculigerus, Taczanowsky ; L. phcenicuroides, Sewertzoff, Turkestan ; 
L. arenariics, Blyth, Darjeeling. 

On the 25th of October 1854, I obtained here a young male 
bii-d of the year of this interesting species. It was caught in the 
throstle-bush. It is the only example of this species which has 
ever been observed here, and, I believe, the only one which has ever 
been met with in Europe. 

H. Blasius, on his first visit to Heligoland in 1858, regarded this 
specimen as a young example of L. jtJuenicurxis, and accordingly 
noted that species in the supjjlements to Naumann's work, vol. 
xiii. p. 39. L. isabellinus must therefore be substituted in its 
place, and L. j^hainiciirus, unless it has since been met with any- 
where in EurojDo, must be struck out of the list of European birds. 

The two species are easily distinguishable. Judging from the 
material at my command, the relations of the various parts of the 
body are very different. The eggs of the two species are of equal 
size, and one would therefore conclude that the birds would stand 
in the same relation to each other; Avhile, however, in L. 2^ha}nicurus 
the wings and tail are of nearly the same length, the former measur- 
ing 337 in.s. (86 mi)).), the latter 3-32 ins. (85 inm.), in L. isabel- 
linuft the tail only measures 3"15 ins. (80 mvi.), but the wings 3'66 
ins. (93 7)17)1.). 

Besides, in the former species, the feathers of the tail are 
strikingly narrow, and the whole part much rounded off; its outer- 
most pair of feathers is 0'75 in. (19 mvi.) and the next pair 0-32 in. 
(8 mm.), shorter than the middle pair. In the latter sjDecies, the 
tail-feathers are very broad, and nearly all of the same length, 
except the outermost pair, which are only 032 in. (8 7)i7n.) shorter 
than the rest. 

L. isahelliniis, moreoYer, displays a white speculum on the roots 
of the primaries, which is not the case in L. 2Jh<jenicurus. Eurther, 
the male of the latter species has all its upper parts, and especially 
the crown of the head, the rump, and the upper tail-coverts, 
of an intense ferruginous colour (rostroth) ; while its lower parts are 
of a very vivid and rich buff colour (rostgelh). In L. isabellinus, on 
the other hand, as one may gather from the name, the upper parts 
are of a creamy -brownish or isabeUine grey (isabell-brdunlichgrau) ; 



220 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

the head and neck of some examples passino^ into a creamy ash 
grey. Beneath, they are of a more or less whitish-cream colour, 
with a rose-red tinge on the upper breasts and the sides of the 
breasts. Both species have the black markings, extending from the 
nostrils, through the eyes, across the ear-coverts. In L. pliomicu- 
rits, this is crossed by a broad pure white stripe ; in L. isahellinus, 
there is only a dull creamy white indication of it. 

The bird Avhich was caught here is, in its upper parts, of a very 
light creamy reddish grey (Jiell isabell-rothgraii), the crown a little 
darker, the feathers of the rump passing into a pale ferruginous 
colour. A faintly indicated eye-streak, and all the lower parts, are 
of a dull whitish cream colour, the colour being somcAvhat more 
intense on the upper breast. The whitish forehead and the crown 
are very faintly dappled with dai"k markings ; these markings, which 
are peculiar to young examples of L. excubitor, are quite faint. 
They are also visible on the upper breast, disappearing gradually at 
the sides. The ear-coverts are of an obscure dark brownish colour 
(triibe dunkelbraimi) ; those of the wings are of similar colour, and 
have dull rusty grey (rostgraii) edges, which, on the posterior flight- 
feathers and the large outer wing-coverts, pass mto a dull rusty 
white (rostweiss). Through this light border there run, as in 
young examples of L. excubitor, fairly well-defined dark lines, which 
pass round the tip of each feather. All the tail-feathers are of a 
uniform dull light ferruginous, the colour being very faint on the 
outer webs ; while at the tips and outer webs of the outermost pair 
of tail-feathers, it passes into a dull ferruginous. The flight- 
feathers are of a pale earthy colour (faJd erdbraun). There 
is no white speculum on the primaries. It is, however, apparent 
that one would have been developed at the next moult ; for the 
fourth flight-feather of the right wing, which had been lost by 
accident and replaced by a new one, bears at its root a fairly 
broad white spot, indicative of the marking of the succeeding 
plumage. 

The feet of the freshly-killed bird were lead grey QAeigraw), 
the bill flesh-coloured with dark tip. The measurements of this 
specimen are: total length, 6'50 ins. (165 vim.): length of the wing 
in the resting position, 3'42 ins. (87 mm.); length of tail, 3'0 ins. 
(76 mm.); portion of tail uncovered by the wings, r57 ins. (40 Tnm.): 
length of bill, 0-39 in. (10 mm.): height of the tarsus, 086 in. 
(22 mm.). The tail is uniformly truncate, only the outermost pair 
of feathers being 0'35 in. (9 mm.) shorter than the rest. 

The specimens in the Berlin Museum, quoted at the head of this 
article, so comj^letely agree in their measurements and in the 
relations of the flight-feathers and rectrices, and show only such 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 221 

faint deviations in their colorations, that it is impossible to regard 
them as a distinct and independent species. The example desig- 
nated as L. speculigerus (Taczanowsky) and collected by Dybowskj- 
in Daiiria, is unmistakably the oldest of these birds. The white 
speculum on the jjrimaries is considerably larger than in any of the 
other examples, and the light creamy brown of the head and back 
has a small admixture of light grey. Very similar to this example 
is a very pretty creamy-grey coloured {isahellgraues) male in the 
Museum of Bremen, collected by Finch in Turkestan. 

L. jyluenicuroides (Sewertzoff) from Turkestan, and L. isahellinus 
(Ehrenberg) from Jumfudda, have smaller specula, and their heads 
and backs are of a browner colour. They may possibly be J'oung 
males. All these examples, together with two young specimens 
described as L. arenarius, and one young example described 
as L. speculigerus, resemble each other completely in their 
measurements as well as in the form of their wings and tails ; 
while the individual caught here, and contained in my collec- 
tion, is also in perfect agreement with these specimens in all re- 
spects, excepting that it is rather more faded, and that, as already 
mentioned, one of the primaries of its first autumn plumage is 
replaced by a new feather displaying the speculum ; otherwise it is 
scarcely distinguishable from any one of the young birds men- 
tioned above. 

The case is different with three other specimens in the Berlin 
Museum, collected by Ehrenberg in Arabia, and named by him 
L. isahellinus ; these consist of an old male, an old female, and a 
young bird. They are strikingly larger, and have the tail strongly 
rounded off. Sewertzotf, in his Fauna of Turkestan, cites a 
L. isahellinus (Ehrenberg), which he describes as a Steppe variety, 
adding that it is constantly larger than his L. ijhoinicuroides, and 
that only the four median feathers of the tail are of equal length : 
while in the latter species — i.e. L. fhcenicuroides — the ten inner 
feathers are of equal length. He further states that he had 
examined a considerable number of examples of this L. isahellinus 
and of his L. phmnicuroides, but had never discovered an inter- 
mediate form. There can accordingly be hardly any doubt that 
this last-named Shrike of Sewertzoff's from Turkestan is identical 
with Ehrenberg's three larger examples from Arabia, and that they 
l)elong to a distinct species. 

The breeding range of this species — i.e. L. isahellinus — extends 
from the Khirgiz Steppes and Turkestan to eastern Mongolia and 
Daiiria. The eggs display all the pleasing colours and stages of 
markings which are met with in L. collurio and L. phanicurus; 
from the most charming light red (Hellroth), with markings of 



222 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

dark red rings or spots, through a biift' and ochreous yellow (Host 
und Okergelb) to a dull yellowish green ground colour (gelblich- 
griin), with yellowish grey {gelhlichgrau) marking. Many of the 
eggs, however, have a ground colour approaching nearer to a 
greenish than one meets with in L. collurio. In size the eggs 
range pretty closely with those of the Red-backed Shrike, as they 
do also in form, though smaller ones occur amongst them than 
are met with in the former species. Their average measurements 
are: length, 0'90 in. (23 mm.); breadth, 0-67 in. (17 mm.). 

The material for the above descriptions, as well as skins for 
comparison, I owe to the kindness and generosity of Mr. Tancre, 
for whom they were collected in the Altai Mountains. 



Flycatcher Muscicajxi. — According to Sharpe, the genus of 
these small harmless birds comprises about twenty species. They 
are inhabitants of the Old World ; but Europe possesses only four 
of them as breeding birds, all of which are represented in Heligo- 
land. 

55. — Pied Flycatcher [Schwarzee Eliegenfanger]. 

MUSCICAPA LUCTUOSA, Temm.i 

Heligolandish : Swart Beskuts = Btoc4 Flycatcher. 

Miisciecqxi luctuosa. Nauniann, ii. 231. 

Ficd Flycatcher. Dresser, iii. 453. 

Gobe-mouche hec-figuc. Temminck, Manuel, i. 155, iii. 84. 

This neat little bird visits Heligoland in larger numbers than 
any of its near relatives. It is especially abundant during the 
autumn migration, returning from its nesting quarters as early as 
the beginning of August, if the weather is fine and warm and the 
wind from the south or south-east. For instance, in 1882, while the 
last old birds passed through on the way to their breeding homes 
as late as July 7th, the first of the young birds returned from the 
latter as early as the 7th of August. From that date onward they 
left daily, during the prevalence of a south-east wind, in large 
flocks until the 20th of the month. From the 21st to the end of 
the month, strong north-west winds interrupted almost completely 
the migration of every species, at least throughout the lower strata 
of the atmosphere, and near the surface of the ground. It was not 
until the 4th of September that a change for the better set in, when, 
besides Sylviidse, Stonechats, and other species, the black — by this 

' Musckapa atricapilla (Linn. ). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 223 

time, indeed, already grey — Flycatcher again made its appearance. 
The last example of that year I find recorded upon the 20th. 

This bird appears in incomparably smaller numbers when 
arrayed in the attractive garb of spring. Its migration at this 
season commences with the last week of April — in 1884, on the 
26th of that month — lasts through May, and sometimes, as stated 
above, extends even into July. 

The breeding range of this species extends from northern Spain 
through the whole of central Europe, beyond the Ural, where the 
bird gets gradually scarcer and finally disappears. In Scandinavia, 
it has been met with up to 70° N. latitude. 

56. — White-collared Flycatcher [Halsband-Fliegex- 

fanger]. 

MUSCICAPA ALBICOLLIS, Temm.i 

Muscicapa albicoUis. Naumann, ii. 224. 

White-collared Flycatcher. Dresser, iii. 459. 

Gohe-riiouche a collier. Temminck, Manuel, i. 153, iii. 84. 

This elegant little bird has been seen here only once during the 
last fifty years, the individual in question being a very fine old male, 
cauffht on the 3rd of June 1860 in a small fowler's net, and now 
forming an ornament of my collection. It is hardly likely that 
this species can have occurred here more frequently, for the bird 
was entirely unknowTi to all local gunners and fowlers, not even 
Reymers having ever seen one like it before on the island. 

This Flycatcher belongs, as a breeding species, to southern 
Europe, fi'om Portugal to the Caucasus; its numbers, however, pre- 
ponderate in the western tracts of this area. Isolated examples 
have been found nesting as far north as central Germany. 

57. — Spotted Flycatcher [Gefleckter Fliegenfanger]. 
MUSCICAPA GRISOLA, Liim. 

Heligolandish : B.\is-'Be.&]i.uta = House-Jlycatcher. 

Muscicapa grisola. Naumann, ii. 216. 

Spotted Flycatcher. Dresser, iii. 447. 

Gobe-mouche gris. Temmincli, Manuel, i. 152, iii. 83. 

This harmless and confiding little bu-d is probably the latest 
of our spring visitors, and its passage seems to be far more 

^ Muscicajja coUari<, Bechat. 



224 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

dependent on warm and calm weather than that of any other 
species. Solitary examples are rarely seen here before the middle 
of May, the 19th and 20th of that month being, according to 
repeated entries in my journal, the usual dates of its arrival. The 
migration continues until about the middle of June, and the birds 
begin to leave again as early as July. M. iiictuosa occurs here as 
early as April, and again on its return passage in large numbers as 
late as September ; but M. (jrisohi has never been observed either 
so early or so late in its two migration seasons. 

This species never appears in very large numbers here. I hardly 
ever see more than twenty or thirty examples in the course of one 
day in my garden, which seems to be a favourite resort of these 
birds. This garden consists of a fairly large and open piece of 
ground, surrounded on all sides by thorns, which are from fifteen 
to twenty feet high, and also by elders and willows ; and the birds 
like to perch on the tips of the dry branches, whence in calm, sun- 
shiny weather, they prosecute their chase after flying insects. The 
Pied Flycatcher, on the other hand, displays a real passion for the 
twig ends of flowering pot-plants, or the handle of a spade sticking 
in the ground, etc. 

This bird is distributed as a breeding species over the whole of 
Europe and Asia. 

58. — Red-breasted Flycatcher [Klkinee Fliegenfanger]. 

MUSCICAPA PARVA, Bechstein. 

Heligolandish : Lutj 'Bei\i\As, = Small Flycatcher. 

Muscicapa parva. Naumann, xiii. 247. 

Red-breasted Flycatcher. Dresser, iii. 465. 

Gobe-mouche rougcdtre. Temminck, Mannel, i. 158, iii. 85. 

This is the smallest species of the genus, and is further distin- 
guished by the pure white coloration of the basal half of its tail. 
Formerly, isolated examples of this bird were seen here almost 
every autumn; in some years also in larger numbers, as, for instance, 
during the first two days of October 1869, when five examples were 
seen ; while, in the course of October 1870, fourteen birds were 
observed, of which nine were shot. 

Since that time, the instances of its occurrence on the island have 
been few. In 1875, three examples were observed ; also one in 1877, 
and another in 1880 ; whilst, for the last seven years, the bird has 
not been seen at all. It is difficult to assign a cause for this total 
absence, though undoubtedly, as in many similar cases, atmospheric 
influences have been at work. These, however, must have been of 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 225 

an essentially difterent character from those which have been dis- 
cussed in detail in the section on migration, for whereas the almost 
complete absence, for some considerable time now, of light south- 
east winds must undoubtedly be regarded as the cause of the rare 
appearance of other eastern and south-eastern species, this cannot 
possibly apply to the small Flycatcher, for, unlike these species, this 
bird has never arrived here with south-east winds and calm, warm 
weather, but mostly with rather strong north-west winds and ravr 
weather. A still more surprising fact in regard to an insectivorous 
bird so small and delicate as this species is, is the late time of its 
arrival, which generally falls about October; but there are instances 
of its having occurred as late as the end of November, viz. : on 
the 23rd, 28th, and 29th, and once, indeed, as late as the 8th of 
December. Moreover, the three examples hitherto observed in 
England were also met with in October and November, and one of 
them even in January. 

These birds, as one might expect, were observed in the milder 
south-western portion of the country. Two of the birds, in the 
course of their migration westwards, got as far as the Scilly Islands, 
and as it is hardly likelj' that it was their purpose to winter there, 
we are led to conclude that the line of flight of this species, after 
proceeding for a space in a westerly direction, finally assumes a 
southerly turn. 

It may, perhaps, appear a biold venture on the part of so small 
a bird to undertake a journey from the Scilly Islands to Spain at 
this late and generally stormy season of the year. We have, how- 
ever, seen how a bird like the Golden-crested Wren, which is still 
smaller and certainly weaker than the Flycatcher, arrives here on 
pitch dark and stormy nights in October, and continues its journey 
over the North Sea to England. After this the flight of this Fly- 
catcher wiU cease to strike us as an extraordinary performance. 

I have only once obtained this small Flycatcher during the spring, 
nor have I observed it on any other occasion since. This fact, also, 
supports the view that those of the birds which migrate via Heligo- 
land in the autumn, either tuni in their flight towards the south 
as soon as they reach the eastern and central parts of England, and 
thence cross the Channel, or, — as was the case with the three before- 
mentioned examples — that they reach the extreme western portions 
of the country, and then turning south, cross over into Spam. In 
the spring, on the other hand, — as is the case with many other 
eastern species comparatively abundant here in autumn but hardly 
ever met with in spring — these birds similarly travel from tlieir 
winter quarters in the south to their homes in the north in a direct 
line instead of taking the circuitous route by which they reached 



226 • THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

their winter stations, so that now they leave- Heligoland lying on 
the left and to the north of their route of passage. 

The call-note of this species, which is said by Nauiiiann and 
Eussow to resemble the sound ' fuid-fllid,' has never been heard in 
Heligoland : instead thereof a peculiar, somewhat protracted chirp, 
sounding remarl^ably like the faint call of the Missel Thrush when 
heard from a distance, has been remarked here, and, indeed, has in 
many cases announced the presence of the bird before it has been 
actuall}' seen. Dr. A. Walter, who observed the bird in great 
numbers in the forests of Livonia, describes the call as a rattling 
sound. In its whole demeanour and action this bird is a miniature 
repetition of its near relative, the Pied Flycatcher. 

Strange to say, the first example of this species which I secured 
had thirteen tail feathers, whence I naturally concluded that the 
normal number was fourteen. This specimen has, I believe, passed 
into the possession of HeiT von Zittwitz. 

The breeding range of this siJecies extends from Germany east- 
wards to Hungary, whence it jiasses northwards to Esthouia, 
Livonia, and Courland, and, according to Seebohm, within the same 
parallels of latitude as far as Kamtschatka. 



Waxiving — Ampelis. — The genus of these handsomely-coloured 
and prettily-marked birds comprises only three species. Of these 
A. cedroriim is a native of North America; A. phcenicopterus 
belongs to Japan, and the third, ^4. garralus, inhabits all the 
northern parts of the Old and New Worlds, and the latter is the 
only species which has hitherto appeared in Heligoland. 



59. — Waxwing [Seidenschwanz]. 

AMPELIS GARRULUS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Siiedens-vens\ie = Silk-Tail. 

Boiiibicilla garrxda. Naumann, ii. 143 ; xiii. Blaskis, Nacktrdge, 45. 

Waxwing. Dresser, iii. 429. 

Grand Jaseur. Teinminck, Manuel, i. 124, iii. 71. 

This species seems everywhere, even where it is foimd as a 
breeding bird, to occur only sporadically, and this is most par- 
ticularly the case in Heligoland. 

During the autumn months of the year 1847 an extraordinary 
powerful migration of eastern species took place, and among these 
appeared, from the middle to the end of September, also some twenty 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 227 

Waxwings. From fifteen to twenty examples were again seen in 
Januar}' 1850, from the «th to the 12th of the month. Since then, 
however, scarcely more than one or two cases of the occurrence of this 
species have been recorded for ten years at a time. The last solitary 
specimen was seen in my garden on the 23rd of Xovember 1876. 

The nesting places of this bird extend from Upper Lapland 
eastward tkrough the whole of Asia, and thence stretch farther east 
from Alaska to about the middle of Arctic North America. 



Oriole — Orioliis. — According to Dresser this genus is represented 
by only two species, 0. galbida, which inhabits Europe and a great part 
of Asia, and 0. Jiundoo, which is a native of India and eastern Asia. 
In both these the smaller feathers of the males are of a beautiful 
pure yellow colour, and the greater or less extent to which the 
black markings are developed seems to be the only mark of 
chstinction between the two species, of which only one, the first- 
named, has hitherto visited Heligoland. 

60.— Golden Oriole [Piuol]. 

Heligolandish : Bulow = Pirol. 

Oriolus galbula. Naumann, ii. 171. 

Golden Oriole. Dresser, iii. 365. 

Loriot vulgaire. Temminck, Manuel, i. 129, iii. 73. 

' Schulz von Billow,' — as I used to call it in my own home, the 
Mark of Brandenburg, when I was a boy — is a very rare visitor 
here ; one or two younger birds or females may perhaps be seen 
during the latter half of May, but even these cannot be reckoned 
on with certainty. In the course of fifty years I have observed and 
obtained only one example, an old male in adult plumage. Its 
far-sounding cry, ' tiult-o-liioh,' a presage of green woods illumined 
by sunshine, I have never yet had the good fortune to hear on 
this island. What scenes of the far-off days of happy boyhood 
would this soimd have re-awakened ! How well I remember 
those Whitsuntide holidays, when we employed aU our arts of 
strategy and cunning to get at a Golden Oriole's nest, hanging in 
the branches of some lofty birch at the edge of the wood ; or, again, 
the beech-gi"Ove, shaped like a light-green dome, the open forest 
with its ancient oaks dating back their birth to a thousand years, 
and having now but scanty space for their wide-spreading roots and 
branches, and the dark pine- woods filled with resinous odours ! 

Those were happy days indeed, when we used to climb up the 
mighty giants of the forest and settle matters with any Buzzard, 



228 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Kite, or Hawk that chanced to come our way, and not feeling at all 
sure at the time whether we ourselves might not have to come to 
terms with the grey old ranger, very jirobably already lying in 
wait for us at the foot of the tree. As a rule, however, in such 
an emergency we managed to avoid a personal interview with that 
worthy official, by simply remaining quietly sitting in the lowest 
branches, and allowing time to settle the issue. The end of it 
usually was that grumpy old Bruhn gave in first, in spite of all 
his previous threats and violence. 

The Golden Oriole occurs as a breeding bird in north Africa, 
in south and central Europe, and in the western half of Asia. To 
Denmark and the south of Sweden its visits are very rare, but it 
is of less rare occurrence in the south of Finland. 



Starling — Slurnus. — Only three species of this Old World genus 
belong to Europe as breeding birds. One of these is found nesting 
in small numbers in Heligoland, whilst another only occurs as a 
rare visitant. 

61. — Starling [Staak]. 

STURNUS VULGARIS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Spiien^ Starlitig. 

Stiirnus vulgaris. Nauinann, ii. 187. 

Common Starling. Dresser, vi. 405. 

Etoumeau vulgaire. Temminck, Manuel, i. 132, iii. 74. 

The Starlings count among the first heralds of the reawakening 
s^jring migration. Larks and Greenfinches come and go nearly 
the whole winter, sometimes travelling in an easterly, sometimes 
in a westerly direction. It is quite otlierwi.se with the Starling, 
which, after it has once begun its migration, continues its journey 
without stopping, scarcely even allowing it to be interfered with by 
stormy days. The first small fiights appear at the begimiing of 
February, and even earlier if the weather is mild. Thus in 1885 
a company of from fiftj' to sixty of these birds arrived here by 
a regular easterly course as early as the 13th of January. The 
migration lasts until the end of March, though isolated stragglers 
arrive even later. 

Thus, while the old Starlings in company with a very small 
number of other species form the vanguard of the spring migration, 
the young may be said literally to inaugurate the return movement 
from the nesting places to the winter quarters, for the first flocks 
make their appearance as earlj' as the first weeks of June. In 1880 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 229 

they arrived as early as the 15tli of the month, but usually they do 
uot reach here until the 20tli ; from that date their munber 
increases daily for three or four weeks, and the migration terminates 
with the end of July. The conditions requisite for the migration 
of these young birds are fine warm weather and a south-east wind. 
The summer of 1878 proves in what vast quantities they may 
arrive imder such conditions. Thus my diary has the following 
entries : -June 20 and 21, great flocks of yoimg Starlings ; June 22, 
23, 24, enormous numbers of young Starlings ; until the end of the 
month many thousands daily — wind south-east, weather calm, 
clear, and hot; July 1st to 12th, young Starlings in thou.sands and 
tens of thousands every day — never seen here in such large quan- 
tities before ; until the 16th, daily flocks of hundreds of individuals ; 
on the 25th again, large numbers of young birds, with which the 
migration of the young grey-plumagcd birds came to an end. 

There now follows an interval of two months during which no 
Starline is seen. At its termination commences the migration of 
the old birds which have completed their moult, being now arrayed 
in their black and much-spotted livery. In the above-named year, 
1878, the first flocks, counting by hundreds, arrived on the 22nd of 
September. My further entries are as follows : On 2nd and 7th of 
October, large flocks of old birds ; on the 8th, flocks of thousands ; 
on the 13th, Hooded Crows and old Starlings in tens of thousands; 
on the 14th, many thousands of Hooded Crows, and old Starlings in 
hundreds of thousands; on the 15th, large numbers of Starlings; 
on the 16th, few ; on the 20th, tens of thousands ; on the 28th, large 
numbers. November 18th and 19th, flights of from twenty to fifty ; 
December 9th to 18tli, flights of from forty to sixty individuals. 
With these the autumn migration of that year tei*minated. Year 
after year the migration proceeds on the same enormous scale, 
defying any attempt at an actual estimate of the numbers of 
individuals engaged therein, — in fact, in my diary I have frequently 
found the term ' clouds of migrants ' as alone capable of conveying 
an adequate impression of these enormous, almost endless flocks, 
as they rush in a densely crowded horde across this island. 

After what has been stated above, it will hardly be necessary to 
further point out that no other species proves in a more striking 
manner how the young ' summer birds ' — [i.e. birds of the year] — 
perform their migration independent of, and unattended by, the 
parent birds ; for, on the one hand, the colours of the old and 
young birds are so entirely different, that the age of the individuals 
of a migratory flock can be told at once, and without any trouble, 
even at a height of several hundred feet ; and, secondly, a great and 
rigidly defined interval exists between the times of migration of the 



230 THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

two sets of individuals. To be sure, occasionally during the iirst 
days of June, quite isolated old birds, — not onl}- of Starlings, but also 
of members of other species — may occur, for the most part in much 
Avorn breeding plumage ; these, however, are examples which either 
have not bred at all, or whose brood has been destroyed, or which 
have lost their mates, and in consequence of such experiences have 
left their nesting places before their proper time ; but such indi- 
viduals have no connection with the young birds that make their 
appearance one or two weeks later, for these invariably travel alone 
and independent of the parent birds ; the latter, as is proved from 
the above entries, following them only after they have completed 
their autumn moult about two months later. 

The gunners of Heligoland j^ursue the J'oung Starlings very 
actively on account of their very tender and appetising flesh. With 
what success this pursuit is sometimes crowned, may be illustrated 
by one instance in which Claus Aeuckens bagged eighty-three 
young Starlings by once firing off the two barrels of his gun. 
Old birds are dry and tough, and it would hardly be possible to kill 
a third part of the same number in two shots. 

The Starling breeds numerously throughout the whole of 
central and northern Europe, and within the same parallels of 
latitude throughout the whole of Asia. 

62. — Rose-coloured Starling [Rosenfakbiger Staar]. 
STURNUS ROSEUS, Brisson.i 

Heligolandish : HUmr-Amael = TIic Beautiful Blackbird. " 

Stnrn,vs roseiis. Neumann, ii. p. 206. 

Rose-coloured Starling. Dresser, iv. p. 423. 

Martin roselin. Temminck, Manuel, p. 136, iii. p. 76. 

This beautiful bird has been seen about forty times, and in most 
cases also shot, within the last fifty years. Like all south-eastern 
species, it makes its appearance chiefly in June, but has sometimes 
been met with even in August ; thus, among other instances, eight 
old birds of this species were shot here in August 1853. It appears 
that we are here really dealing with the normal autumn jDassage of 
individuals which have travelled beyond the usual limits of their 
spring migration, these irregular journeys extending frequently to 
England, Scotland, and even to the Orkney and Shetland Islands. 
What is still more surprising is the occurrence, late in the season, 
of young birds of the year which are still in their grey early 
plumage; thus, in September 18G0, I obtained three such indi- 

' Pa.'itor rostn,': {hinn.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 231 

viduals. There are two ways in which this phenomenon may be 
explained. It is possible that this species may occasionally, in 
European and Asiatic Russia, advance north as far as the latitude 
of Heligoland, and breed in this region, — a portion of the j'oung, 
like many other species residing in districts far to the east of this 
island, do not in such cases follow the normal course of the autumn 
migration of their species, but turn to the west, and in this manner 
reach Heligoland. According to the other explanation, w-e are here 
dealing with one of those cases of frequent occurrence, where birds 
which have advanced to Scotland have bred in that countr}-, — the 
birds observed in Heligoland being the broods of such individuals 
engaged on their pas.sage to Persia or India. An attempt at 
nesting of this kind is mentioned by Gray (Birds of the West of 
Scotland, p. 161). 

The above-mentioned migration beyond the normal limits of 
the spring migration of south-eastern species which breed in Greece, 
Asia Minor, or Syria, and Avhose winter stations range from southern 
Persia through the wdiole of India, must not be regarded as a mere 
roving about without plan or purpose, but as has been discussed 
in detail in the section on Migration under ' unusual phenomena,' 
is doubtless caused by the fact that one member of the breeding 
pair, mostly the laying or breeding female, has perished during the 
first stages of the breeding process, while the surviving member of 
the pair seeks to satisfy the still active breeding instinct by con- 
tinuing the spring migration in the direction peculiar to its species. 
This, in the case of the Rose-coloured Starling, proceeds in a 
westerly direction, and conveys the bird across Germany to 
England, Scotland, and the islands north of that country. 

However adventurous such an attempt may appear, the above- 
cited observation of Gray's proves that it may, nevertheless, be 
successful. From the Reports of the Marquis Antinori in the 
Nauvumnia for 1856, we learn in what unprecedented quantities 
these birds are destroyed by predatory animals in their breeding 
colonies, Avhich are located on the ground amongst the rubble. 

This bird occurs as a breeding species from Asia Minor to 
southern Russia, in the Caucasus and Turkestan, extending east- 
ward within the same parallels of latitude into Central Asia. 



Tlirusli.e>< — Twrdince. — This genus comprises about two hundred 
species, if we include therein the great White's Thrush, the 
Rock Thrush, and the American Mocking Thrushes, all of which 
are here, following the older system of classilication, noted as 
Thrushes. About twenty-one of these have hitherto been met 
with in Europe, of which, however, only eight can be regarded as 



232 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

resident breeding birds. The number of sijecies observed in Heligo- 
land amounts to nineteen, among these being two species new to 
Europe, viz. T. lividus and T. rufus. Another small American 
species, T. sivainsoni, was, at the time of its capture at least, 
new to Europe, but has since then once been shot in Holstein. 

Some of the species, notably the Song Thrush and Blackbird, 
are also caught here for purposes of consumption. It is strange, 
however, that there exists in Heligoland no special method for 
catching the Fieldfare (T. ^5 ;7«7';'s, L.), which is almost everywhere 
else the principal species captured for this purpose. These birds 
are caught here or shot only in exceptional cases. One would of 
course include the Ring Ousel (Tardus torquatus, L.) among the 
species sought after for the table ; and this large fat bird is indeed 
in great demand among our fowlers, but unfortunately it visits 
Heligoland in by no means large numbers, and then only frequents, 
by preference, the steep walls and upper edges of the rocks ; the 
bird is, moreover, so shy and watchful that it is difficult to approach 
it even with the gun. 

All the Thrushes are caught here by means of nets. The bait, 
strange as it may appear, is formed by a few dry shrubs stuck 
in the earth. The manner of constructing a snare arrangement 
of this kind is as foUows : a space about twenty feet long, and 
from six to eight feet broad, is surrounded by a fencing of bushes, 
ten feet high, and placed fairly close together, so that there is just 
room enough left between them to allow the Thrushes to run com- 
fortably through at the bottom. 

The bushes forming one of the long sides of this arrangement 
are put up perpendicularly, those of the opposite side in such a 
manner as to incline towards them. Over this latter side a strong 
net is stretched, reaching from the top of the bushes to within two 
feet from the ground, and enclosing one side of the enclosure in a 
long semicircle ; a second net, of strong thread loosely strung on a 
line, is stretched tightly by means of the latter round the lower 
portion of the same side of the throstle-bush a little above the 
lower edge of the first net, and also like the latter forms an extensive 
semicircle round the side of the throstle-bush. Below, however, 
this net is spread loosely on the ground for a distance of about six 
feet from the bottom of the bushes : in this manner the depth of 
the whole arrangement is considerably increased. 

The bushes must be set up in such a manner that they may be 
visible to the birds from some distance, and that there is nothing 
which might impede their fiight towards the open uunetted side. 
Green bushes, if accessible, will of course attract the birds in a con- 
siderably higher degree. In somewhat sheltered gardens, like 



THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 233 

mine, the latter may be employed with advantage, but on the top 
of the plateau they are quite impracticable, for the violent north- 
westerly gales which prevail here in autumn and winter very soon 
remove every freely exposed bush, even the lowest. 

A netting arrangement of this kind is here called ' troossel-goard,' 
which, literally translated, means ' throstle-garden.' The term 
' throstle-bush,' which, logically speaking, would perhaps be more 
correct, is however hardly admissible, inasmuch as the language of 
Heligoland has no such word as 'bush' in its vocabulary ; every bush 
or shrub, however small, — nay, even the potted flowers in the 
windows — being indiscriminately designated ' boamen,' i.e. trees. 

There are about twenty of these throstle-bushes on the island ; 
and the capture of the birds by these means forms a very remunera- 
tive employment ; for, after the potatoes, and what little cabbage 
there is, have been gathered in, the surface of the island is as bai-e 
as the sea which surrounds it. 

Consequently, birds like the Thrushes, used to shady woods, are 
powerfully attracted by the few dead tAvigs and bushes stuck in the 
ground, and hasten towards them with the utmost readiness. Once 
inside the bush, they are, by means of long sticks, driven without 
much trouble to that portion of the net which lies loose upon the 
ground, where for the most part they stick their heads through 
the meshes, and are unable to get back again. 

During a strong migration it is by no means rare to catch 
several himdreds of Thrushes in one morning in one of these con- 
trivances. If the weather is less favourable, one is quite satisfied 
to get from thirty to fifty. Besides Thrushes, many other birds 
get accidentally under the net, such as Woodcocks {Scolopax rusfi- 
cula, L.), Wood Pigeons {Colmnha palumbus, L.), the Landrail 
(Crex irratensis, L.), and its near relations ; all the species of 
Shrike, the Long-eared Owl {Sfrix otus, L.) ; the Sparrow-Hawk 
(Accipiter nisus, L.), too, is by no means infrequently lured thither 
while in pursuit of his prey. Generally, also, the bush teems with 
Leaf-warblers, Finches (Frlngillidce), and Titmice (Paridce) ; 
these however can, by reason of their small size, easily escape 
through the meshes of the net, getting off without further damage 
than a good fright. 

I have described the ' troossel-goard ' in such detail because 
one might, perhaps to advantage, set up arrangements of this kind 
in other places, not only on the barren islands of the coasts of 
England and Norway, but also on heaths and extensive fields lying 
in the path of the ' throstle-track,' — a term perhaps not unfittingly 
applied to the autumn migration of the Thrushes, when proceeding, 
as it frequently does, at a low elevation above the ground. 



23i THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

63.— White's Thrush [Bunte Drossel]. 
TUEDUS VARIUS, Pallas. 

Heligolandish : Gold-Troossel = (Jo/f? Thrush. 

Turdus niiitei. Kaumami, xiii. 262. 

White's Thriish. Dresser, ii. 77. 

Merle varie ou de Wilhe. Teimuinck, Manuel, iv. 602. 

This fine large species from eastern Asia has up to the present 
been shot thirteen times in Heligoland, and has been observed from 
six to eight times besides. Five of these birds I stuffed for my 
own collection, four of which still remain amongst its permanent 
ornaments, while the fifth, a fine male, caught on the 3rd of Septem- 
ber 1846, I presented to my dear friend. Professor Alfred Newton 
of Cambridge. 

The dates of the occurrence of these examples, so far as I have 
been able to ascertain them, are as follows : — October 1827, Sep- 
tember 1834, October 1836, October 1S40, 3rd September 1846, 
3rd October 1849 (a splendid male), 4th October 18G4 (a female), 
23rd April 1869 (a male, much faded and damaged), 1st October 
1869, 16th October 1869 (a fine female), 18th September 1870, 9th 
October 1872 (a male), 3rd October 1884 (a female). 

Apart from those named above, Reymers and old Koopmann 
have repeatedly caught and prepared specimens of this Thrush in 
the interval between 182.5 and 1837 ; the dates of these are, however, 
no longer determinable ; to them belong the two examples men- 
tioned by Gould in his Birds of Europe as caught near Hamburg, 
one of which, according to Newton, is still in the possession of 
Mr. Baker, of Hardwick Court, Ensfland, while the other belonsrs to 
the next very similar species. Tardus dauma. 

On the continent of Europe about fifteen examples of White's 
Thrush have been killed in the course of the last hundred years — 
the first known instance dating back to the year 1788. In England, 
the bird, according to Newton, has been seen nine times, from 1828 
to 1872, all the examples having been shot with the exception of 
one. These eight specimens are distributed among several well- 
known collections. 

This strikingly beautiful Thrush is at once distinguished from 
all hitherto known European species by the variegated plumage, 
not only of its under surface, but also of its upper parts. 

In freshly-moulted autumn birds, all the upper parts are of a 
beautiful clean, almost golden olive colour (golduj-olivcnfarhen); 
every feather has its shaft marked by a light yellow stripe, and is 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 235 

encircled b}' ca broad velvety black crescent-shaped border ; on the 
ruiup the ground colour passes hito a dull olive yellow {olivencjdb), 
and on the feathers of the top of the head in front of the black tip, 
it is of a pure yellow. All the lower parts ai'e white ; the lai'gest 
feathers of the flanks and belly being pure white, those of the 
upper breast suffused with olive ; and on the sides of the breast 
tinged with light buff colour {roMgdh). The feathers of these 
parts, too, with the exception of those of the belly and throat, have 
each a deep velvety black crescent-shaped border, which is very 
broad on the sitles of the breast and on the flanks, particularl}' in 
the males, so that it covers a large part of the ground colour ; 
towards the middle of the belly, however, it gets narrower, and is 
gradually lost towards the forepart of the neck. The white under- 
tail-coverts have only small and very narrow crescent-shaped 
terminal spots. 

The tail-feathers are of a blackish olivaceous brown (olivenbraun), 
the outer webs being of olive colour, which passes partially into a 
beautiful ochreous yellow (okergelb). The greater wing-coverts 
have their outer webs likewise of an olive colour, and their tips of a 
bright ochreous yellow {okeiydb); the median and lesser wing- 
coverts are deep black, but their terminal third is of a whitish 
ochreous yellow (weisslich okergelb); this coloin* extends broadly 
on the shaft as far as the middle of the feather. The under side 
of the wing displays a very striking marking, which seems to be 
peculiar to a whole group of eastern Asian and Australian Thrushes. 
This marking consists of two stripes, one broad and pure white, the 
other deep black, which spread across the expanded wing from the 
posterior flight-feathers forward to the second flight-feather. This 
strikingly peculiar marking at once enables vis to recognise the 
bird when on the wing. 

The tail has fourteen feathers. The upper surface of the two 
central pairs of feathers is of an olive yellowish brown (olivengelb- 
hraun), the inner webs being somewhat darker ; in the next t^mx 
the inner webs, and the lower third of the outer webs, are blackish. 
The two next following pairs are black ; their outer webs have 
olive-coloured edges, and they have a white spot at the tip. In 
the next following pair the white marking is very large, and 
extends along the shaft, where it is very blurred, over half the 
length of the feather; only the basal portion of the outer web 
being still black. In the outermost pair of feathers the blackish 
colour does not advance beyond their basal portions, the greater 
portion of the inner web being pure white, while the outer web is 
very light whitish olive coloured {weisdicli olivenfarben). 

The measurements of this beautiful Thrush, as taken from seven 



236 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

fresh examples, are as follows: Total length, 11'22 in. (285 mm.); 
length of wings, G-46 in. (16im.m.); length of tail, 410 in. (104 
mTYi) ; length of tail uncovered by wings, 2"17 in. (55 mm.) ; length 
of beak, -86 in. (22 mm.) : length of tarsus, 1-38 in. (35 mm.). 

On the wings the third and fourth jirimaries are the longest, 
the latter receding only from '04 to '08 in. (1 to 2 mm.) ; the second 
flight-feather is from 16 to '20 in. (4 to 5 mm.), shorter than the 
fourth, but by about double as much longer than the fifth, 
its tip thus approaching considerably closer to the fourth than 
to the fifth. 

The tail is more or less rounded. In one of my examples the 
outermost pair of feathers is 1'47 in. (12 fnm.), the next pair 20 in. 
(5 mm.) shorter than the rest, while in another nearly all the feathers 
are of equal length, only the outermost pair being '35 in. (9 onm.) 
shorter. 

According to actual observations, the nesting range of this 
species must extend from the Asiatic side of the Jenesei through 
southern Siberia. No eggs or nests however have as yet been dis- 
covered of which one could assert with certainty that they belonged 
to this species. 

64. — Small-billed Mountain Thrush [Himalaya-Drossel], 
TURDUS DAUMA, Latham. 

Geofichla clauma. Seebohm, Cat. Brit. Mus. Birds, v. 154. 

In the museum of Lund there is a Thrush, which, by the will of 
Baron von Gyllenkrog, went with the rest of his collection after 
his death to this institution. This example, alleged to have been 
caught on Fiihnen, was bought about fifty years ago by Herr von 
Gyllenkrog from Brandt, a Hamburg naturalist. Brandt, however, 
informed me personally, a few years ago, that this example was one 
of the two birds which at that time, about 1836, reached him from 
Heligoland, and which Gould, likewise supporting himself on 
Brandt's statements, mentions in his Binh of Europe as having 
occurred in the neighbourhood of Hamburg. The latter Thrush, 
according to Gould's determination, was undoubtedly T. varius, 
and still exists, as has been already mentioned, in a collection in 
England. The other Thrush, however, which in the Lund museum 
is exhibited as T. Iwiuddfti-t, does not belong, according to the form 
of the wings, to the latter species, but to T. dauma from the 
Himalayas, between which and the Australian T. lunulatus, 
according to Dresser, no hard and fast dividing line can be 
drawn. 

According to the wing measurements supplied to me from 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 237 

Lund, the example in the museum of that town has the second 
flight-feather only -07 hi. (2 mm.) longer than the sixth, and -20 in. 
(5 mm.) shorter than the fifth ; the third and fourth flight-feathers are 
the longest, and project about 21 in. (7 vim.) beyond the second. In 
the preceding species, T. varius, the tip of the second flight-feather 
comes closer to the fourth than to the fifth ; but in the present 
species, T. dauma, it comes closer to the sixth than to the fifth: 
hence in the former case it comes between the fourth and fifth, 
and in the latter between the fifth and sixth. Both species are 
very similar in colour and markings. The present species is a 
resident breeding bu'd in the Himalayas, and, as far as is at present 
known, has not been observed an3'-where else on European soil. 



65. — Missel Thrush [Misteldeossel]. 

T URDUS YISCIVORUS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Snarker=iSf}!orec. 

Turdus viscivoms. Naumann, ii. 248. 

Missel Thrush. Dresser, ii. 262. 

Merle draiiu. Temminck, Manuel, i. 161, iii. 87. 

Of all the Thrushes which are residents of the neighbouring 
continent, the Missel Thrush visits HeHgoland in the smallest 
numbers ; even leaving out of consideration the extreme shj-ness 
and cautiousness of the bird, it would be next to impossible to 
obtain more than twenty examples here in the course of a whole 
year. It is extremely rare to find this bird among the other cap- 
tives of the throstle-bush, and to get at it on the bare surface of 
the Highland Plateau with the gun is quite impossible. 

The bird counts among the earliest appearances of the spring 
migration, arriving in dull and mild weather as early as the 
beginning of February. As a rule, however, only one or two, rarely 
more than three, birds are seen in the course of a day. In fact, 
it is nowhere represented in such large numbers as are other 
resident Thrush species, although it is distributed over the whole 
of Europe and Asia, as far at least as Lake Baikal. Irby found 
the nest at Gibraltar, Sewertzofl" in Turkestan, and WoUey obtained 
both nests and eggs in Sweden and Finland as far as 68" X. 
latitude. 



•238 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

66. — Song Thrush [Singdrossel]. 

TURDUS MUSICUS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : GTu-Tioossel = Grcy Tlirush. 

Turdus musicus. Naumann, ii. 262. 

Song Thrush. Dresser, ii. 19. 

Merle grive. Temminck, Manuel, i. 164, iii. 88. 

Among the game which graces the table of the Hehgolander, 
the Song Thrush, or, — to give its popular local name, ' de Grii,' i.e. 
' the grey one ' — plays a very prominent part. This, however, b}- no 
means implies that the fat Blackbird, or the large, delicious Ring 
Ousel are held in less estimation, but is due rather to the fact that 
the Song Thrush occurs here generally in much larger numbers 
than an}' of its relatives, and also, both because the chances of its 
frequent appearance are more favourable and the duration of its 
migration is much longer than that of any other species. With this 
advantage of a larger supply there is combined the pleasure of its 
highly agreeable taste, for, in this respect, a fat Song Thrush in 
autumn stands second to none of the whole pack of its relatives. 
Accordingly, when the menu of the Heligolander's housewife con- 
tains the item, ' Troossel-supp ' (i.e. Thrush soup) we may reckon 
with safety on the timely appearance of paterfamilias at the dinner- 
table, his spoon held in readiness, and his mouth watering in 
expectation of the good things that are to come. Nor do I, after 
many j'ears' practice, intend to blame him in the least for this little 
epicurean weakness, for I myself have pretty often, when assisting 
in the grey dawTi of the morning at the capture of the dainty fat 
Ring Ousel, suddenly caught my thoughts straying, with by no 
means unpleasurable feelings, from the throstle-bush to the soup 
pot. 

The word ' Throstle-soup ' may perhaps sound rather sti'ange. 
Here in Heligoland, however, almost everything finds its way into 
the soup pot, or rather stewpan ; not only every species of Thrush, 
but also, by preference. Larks, a stray Wood Pigeon, Golden Plover, 
Pewit, Landrail, and the like. Hardly anything is roasted. For 
my part, I can only advise everybody who catches birds in sufficient 
numbers, for once in a way not to roast his T. Tnusicus, or Field- 
fares ; but, by way of a trial, to coniide some forty or fifty, accorduig 
to requirements, to the soup pot. But, for heaven's sake, don't 
have the fattest birds drawn ! And if Betty is a true artist, of 
which I have no doubt, she will send up a soup — to be followed by 
Thrushes uu naturel — of which I'm sure no one will fail to ask a 
second helping. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 239 

The migration of the Song Thrush commences in the spring, 
according to the state of the weather. As early as the beginning 
of Marcli, or even earlier — I find it noted at odd places in my 
journal as early as the third week in February — this migration 
contiimes incessantly until the middle of May. The return migra- 
tion begins in the middle of September and lasts until the end of 
October or middle of November. A light south-east and south- 
south-east is the most favourable wind for both migi-ation periods, 
especially if it be accompanied by tine warm weather. Besides 
these regular flocks of migrants, there appear here almost annually, 
during the first days of July, small comjjanies of from five to six 
j-oung birds. These often have theii' upper parts still marked with 
light spots. They frequent chiefly dense bushes and shrubberies 
in gardens. 

The only conclusion to be drawn from the early appearance of 
birds like these is that they must have been bred on Heligoland. 
If so, it remains to be explained where their nest could have been 
situated, unless, perhaps, in some dark cleft of the rocks, since 
bushes dense enough to serve as the nesting place of a Thrush are 
not to be found on the island. 

The arrival of the Thrushes in the quiet dawn of morning is 
marked by a peculiar buzzing sound, the birds shooting down from 
a great height with a rapidity much greater than that of a sky- 
rocket, and mostly in one steep, perpendicular line of descent ; 
sometimes, however, they describe a two- or three-fold zigzag, as 
one may recognise from the changing tone of the noise. The 
downrush of a Thrush, Pigeon, or Snijje, is far too rapid to be 
capable of observation by the eye ; one is only able to see it at the 
last moment, in which the bird suddenly approaches the ground 
and forthwith settles thereon. This takes place sometimes in a 
slightly inclined direction, sometimes almost perpendicularly. 

Such a sudden and steep descent, however, takes place only in 
calm, clear weather ; if the atmosphere is damp, dull, and heavy, 
the birds arrive flying at a lower elevation. 

During a strong migration the Thrushes buzz about at early 
dawn with the speed of an arrow through the streets, among 
scattered houses and gardens, and, in this way, precipitate them- 
selves into the throstle-bush or other shrubs. The greatest speed 
at which the birds fly during the day is not to be compared with 
that of their flight during these early hours. The latter probably 
represents the last spurt at the close of the migratory journey, and, 
in the case of the spring migration of the Red-spotted Bluethroat, 
reaches the astonishing result of one hundred and eighty miles per 
hour. 



240 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

During these early morning hours the Thrushes may also be 
caught with success in large vertically-placed nets, like Snipe nets, 
but having smaller meshes. In the course of the day these 
Thrushes fly into the bush more at their ease ; sometimes, too, 
when not watched, they will hop into it along the ground: but 
one is never able to drive them into it like the Blackbirds. If one 
approaches one of the latter, the liird tries at first to withdraw by 
long bounds. A Song Thrush never proceeds in this maimer ; it 
sits stiU and erect until one approaches it too closely, when it 
suddenly flies away. If it happens to be sitting close in front of 
the throstle-bush, it will, imder such conditions, fly vertically 
upward and away over, but not into, the bush. 

The capture of Thrushes in the throstle-bush was formerly 
— i.e. before the change in the prevailing direction of the wind 
already referred to had set in — an extremely profitable occupation. 
An old fowler — Paj^ens — used often to catch as many as five or six 
hundred birds in one day in his bush. Once, in October 1824, he 
actually caught as many as a thousand in one day. Nowadays, 
however, a hundred represeiits an exceptionally good day's catch. 

The Song Thrush breeds abundantly from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific Ocean. In Norway its breeding range extends to 68° N. 
latitude. 

67. — Redwing [Weindrossel]. 
TURDUS ILIACUS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Guhl-Jukked = r/ic Yellow-Winged {Thrush). 
Turdus iliacus. Nauiuann, ii. 276. 
Redwing. Dresser, ii. 35. 

Merle mauvis. Temminck, Manuel, i. 165, iii. S9. 

This handsome Thrush visits Heligoland in much smaller 
numbers than the precedmg, and even of these visitors probably 
only a small portion calls here of its own choice ; for the large flocks, 
numbering from one hundred to two hundred birds, which descend 
in October, sometimes late in the afternoon or towards evening, 
with much noise, are invariably the precursors of bad weather — i.e. 
of violent west wind and rain. Endowed with a presentiment of 
these impending changes, they break their journey at HeUgo- 
land, which would certainly not happen under favourable conditions 
of weather. This phenomenon furnishes another proof of the 
valuelessness of data as to the local appearance of birds during 
their migration period, collected with so much zeal and in so many 
quarters, if these are not accompanied by the fullest and most 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 241 

comprehensive information as to the meteorological conditions at 
the time of observation. For, as has been already fully discussed 
in the section on ' Atmospheric Conditions which influence Migra- 
tion,' the appearance of particular birds in greater or less numbers 
in particular places and at particular times is most intimately con- 
nected with the local atmospheric conditions which prevail at the 
time being. 

This bird is caught here only in small numbers ; it frequents 
principally open fields and grass-plots, and hence approaches the 
throstle-bush only in rare and exceptional cases. 

Its autumn migration commences later than that of the Song 
Thrush, the first individuals rarely arriving before the middle of 
October. Its movements, too, are less influenced by the weather 
than those of the last-named species. The migration lasts through- 
out the whole of November ; smaller companies may also be met 
■with as late as December — e.g. in 1886, on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd 
of that month. 

The Redwing breeds from the centre to the extreme north of 
Scandinavia, and within the same parallels of latitude as far as 
eastern Siberia. Towards the east, however, its numbers undergo 
considerable diminution. 



68.— Dark Thrush [Blasse Dkossel]. 

TURDUS FALLENS, PaU.i 

Turdus PaXlens. Naumann, xiii. 2S9. 

Dusky Thrush. Dresser, ii. 71. 

Merle blafard. Temminck, Manuel, iii. 97, iv. 605. 

I am noting this species mainly on the authority of Claus 
Aeuckens, he having, on the 3rd of June 1881, seen an example of 
it at a distance of from eight to ten paces. He had time enough 
to observe the bird to his entire satisfaction ; but, unfortunately, 
not having a gim with him he was not able to secure it. Aeuckens, 
who, as a careful and reliable observer probably stands second 
to none on this island, described the bird so accurately that 
not the least doubt remained as to its species. He was further 
convinced of his conclusions on my showing him the skin of one 
of these birds. The bird, moreover, has been met with pretty 
often on the continent, and, a few years ago, was caught as near as 
Holstein, so that its appearance in Heligoland need not be a matter 
of great surprise. 

' Turdwi obscurus, Gmelin. 
Q 



242 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

The home of this Thi'ush is in the northern parts of eastern 
Asia. Seebohm found the nest within the Arctic Circle, on a 
tributary of the Jenesei, and Dybowsky met with breeding birds in 
Dauria. As the bird has been received even from JajDan, it is 
probable that its nesting places extend into the extreme eastern 
parts of Asia. 

69.— Olive-backed Thrush [Swainson's Drossel]. 
TURDUS SWAINSONI, Cabanis. 

Txirdxis Swainsoni. Naumann, xiii. 275, pi. 355, fig. 4. 

Wilson's Thrush. Richardson and Swainson, Faun. Bor. Ainer., p. 182. 

Turdus Swainsoni. Seebohm, Cat. of Birds of Brit. Mus., \. 201. 

The first example of this small American Thrush observed in 
Europe was caught, accordmg to Giglioli (Avifauna Italica,^. 100), 
at Genoa in the autumn of 1S43. The bird is later reported to 
have occurred in Belgium, but according to Naumann, ' this report 
has not been verified.' On the 2nd of October 18(39, however, a 
bird of this species was met with in Heligoland. It was pre- 
pared as a specimen by myself and is in my collection. It had 
been so much frightened by a Sparrow-hawk that it fled up the 
steps of the wooden stair leading up to the clitf — i.e. the Highland, 
or Oberland — among the people passing there at the time, and 
allowed itself to be caught by the hand of a young gunner, Jacob 
Aeuckens, without making the least eftbrt to escape. 

According to Giglioli's further notes, another example of this 
Thrush was caught in LTpper Italj' in 1878, and exhibited in the 
museum of Roveredo; and, finally, there is in the museum at 
Hamburg an example caught several years ago in Holstein. 
This example, which I was enabled to compare with m}' own 
specimen, resembles the latter completely, and is undoubtedly T. 
swainsoni. 

All the examples noted above as having been met with in 
Europe were captured during the autumn migration, which, 
judging from analogous phenomena, would lead one to presume 
that they originate from eastern Asia. This assumption is further 
supported by the fact that dui'ing Nordenskj old's Arctic Expedition 
three small Thrushes were caught on the Tchukchee Peninsula, on 
the 1st, 8th, and 10th of June. These are described as var. alicice 
(Baird), a pale eastern aberration of T. stvain-'^oni (Palm^n, Bear- 
beitung des Ornithologischen Materials.^ As however the original 
home of both forms is in North America, whence T. alicioi has 
advanced iiato Asia, we may therefore assume that T. swainsoni, 

' Report on the Ornithological Materials collected by the Expedition. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 243 

which only differs from T. alicke by its somewhat deeper buff 
(rostgelb) coloration, shares with the latter form the tendency for 
migrating westwards, and in virtue of this tendency reaches Europe 
by way of Asia. 

In the coloration of all its upper parts, tail, and wings, this 
small and handsome Thrush exactly resembles a Song Thrush. Its 
lower parts are dingy white, with a tinge of buff colour on the neck 
and upper breast. The sides of the neck and upper breast have 
the spotted markings characteristic of all the Thrush species 
Towards the upper breast, however, these markings, which at first 
have the form of acute triangles, rapidly widen out ; nor are they as 
black or as sharply defined as in the Song Thrush ; and at the sides 
of the breast they pass into broad, dingy grey and very faint spots, 
so as to be scarcely distinguishable from the grey-clouded flanks. 
The middle of the breast, the belly, and under tail-coverts are 
of a uniform white. 

The measurements of the bird killed here were as follows : — 
total length, 6'34 ins. (161 mm.); length of wing in repose, 3-74 
ins. (95 m.rii.) ; length of tail, 2-64 ins. (67 vim.) ; length of tail 
uncovered by wings, 106 in. (27 mm.); length of beak from 
forehead to point, "43 in. (11 mm.); length of tarsus, 110 in. 
(28 mm.). 

The breeding range of this species extends across Canada and 
Alaska as far as the Arctic Circle. The paler, more grey-coloured 
individuals, which are said to predominate in the eastern portions 
of their breeding home, whence, accordmg to Seebohm (Cat. of 
Birds of Brit. Mus., v. 202), they pass over to Kamtschatka, have 
been separated from the more vividl}' rust-yellow examples under 
the name T. alicice. How far this separation is correct cannot 
be decided here. We would only remark that the example which 
was met with in Heligoland is of a fairly vivid buff (rost- 
gelb) colour. 

A clutch of eggs of this species, of the genuineness of which 
no doubt can exist — inasmuch as I received it from the Smith- 
sonian Institution at Washington — in the ground colour and 
colour of the markings almost exactly resembles diffusely-marked 
examples of the Ring Ousel, though the ground colour may be 
somewhat of a less rich sea-green and the colour of the markings 
not quite so brightly ferruginous (rostroth) as in the latter species ; 
moreover, a few violet-grey (violettgraue) blotches occur between 
these markings. In two of these eggs the markings are spread over 
the whole surface, being somewhat denser at the thicker end of 
the eg^. In another the markings are collected in a zone. In the 
fourth the violet-grey (violettgraue) blotches are more numerous, 



244 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

and the markings, which consist of small, sharply-defined dots of a 
deeper violet brown {vwlettbraun) are extremely scattered. 

In shape the eggs are moderately rounded, their length being 
■86 in. (22 7?i7?i.), and their largest diameter, -67 in. (17 mm.). 
Their shells are much less glossy than those of the eggs of most 
other species of Thrush. 

70.— Hermit Thrush [Einsame Deossel]. 
TURDUS PALLASI, Cabanis. 

Twrdiis solitarius. Naumann, xiii. 275, pi. 355, figs. I and 2. 

Hermit Thrush. Richardson and Swainson, Faun. Bor. Amer., p. 184, pi. 35. 

Merle solitaire. Sclilegel, Krit. Uebers. d. Vogel JEuropas, pp. xi. and 70. 

Tardus pallasi. Seebohm, Cat. of Birds of Brit. Mus., v. 190. 

An example of this small American Thrush was caught here 
in October 1836, eleven years after Naumann had obtained 
one near his residence. Reymers, who, a few years after its 
capture here, reported the fact to me, was unable in spite of all 
efforts to obtain the bird from its captor, otherwise it would pro- 
bably, like T. lividiift, have come into my collection afterwards. 
Reymers described the bird to me as a very vividly-coloured 
miniature Song Thrush, with a tail of similar colour to that of the 
nightingale. Very soon afterwards, however, he saw at Brandt's, in 
Hamburg, some American skins of this species, and in this way 
learned the name of this rare visitor. 

According to Professor Giglioli, a specimen of this species 
caught in Italy is contained in a private collection in that 
country. 

This small Thrush breeds in North America up to 60° N. lat. 



71.— Wilson's Thrush [Kleine Drossel]. 
TURDUS FUSCESCENS, Stephens. 

Turdus Wilsoni. Naumann, xiii. 275, pi. 355, fig. 3. 

Little Tawny Thrush. Richardson and Swainson, Faun. Bor. Jmer., p. 179, pi. 36. 

Turdus fuscescens. Seebohm, Cat. of Birds of Brit. Mus., v. 203. 

In regard to this small Thrush, also, Reymers is my only 
authority as to its occurrence on the island. He told me that 
Brandt had determined it as T. minor. Its under parts were 
almost devoid of spots. The neck and upper breast only were 
marked by a few of the spots characteristic of the Thrush species. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 245 

which were very dingy but not black, on a faint yellow ground. 
The sides and other lower parts were whitish. 

About 1833 this specimen, so interesting by reason of its rarity, 
passed over into Brandt's possession, as has been the case in many 
similar instances. On seeing, more than ten years later, the first 
few hundred birds which I had collected, Brandt expressed his 
surprise at finding among them so few of the rarer Sylvise and 
Thrushes, of which he said he had very often received many inter- 
esting examples from this island. It appeared strange that he 
had never received from here rare Eastern species of Buntings, 
and he was therefore much surprised at seeing in my collection 
Ember iza lyusllla, of which species I j^ossessed at that time my 
first example. 

Buntings from Siberia have, however, within the latter decades, 
become particularly numerous. May we perhaps be allowed to 
assume that, — side by side with changes of meteorological condi- 
tions which, as already frequently mentioned, have set in within 
the last thirty years and acted as disturbing agents on the ap- 
pearance of Eastern insectivorous species — other meteorological 
influences, too delicate to be perceptible, have come into play 
and favoured the appearance of Eastern Buntings and other 
gi-anivorous species ? 

This small Thrush occurs as a resident breeding bird in the 
central and northern parts of North America, from the Atlantic 
Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. 

Despite their apparent similarity and almost equal size, it is 
nevertheless very easy to determine any one of the three preceding 
small species of Thrush. Tardus swainsoni is distinguished from 
the two others by its olive-coloured upper side, which never has 
the least tinge of the rusty orange brown (rosto7Xinge-hraun) which 
characterises the two other species ; and of these T. pattern, is 
unmistakably recognisable by its ferruginous (rostroth) tail, which 
in T. fuscescens has nearly the same colour as the large flight- 
feathers. The three species are equally distinct in the marking of 
their under parts. In T. pallasi the black spots characteristic of the 
Thrushes extend down to the middle of the breast ; in T. swainsoni 
only as far as the upper breast ; while in T. fuscescens they are of a 
very pale dingy brownish colour, and reach only to the base of the 
neck. 



246 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

72.— Fieldfare [Wachholder-Drossel]. 
TUHDUS PILARIS, Linu. 

Heligolandish : Lanz (a name without further signification). 

Tardus pilaris. Naumunn, ii. 296. 

Fieldfare. Dresser, ii. 41. 

Merle litorne. Temniincli, Manuel, i. 163, iii. 88. 

It is surprising that the Fieldfare, which is everywhere caught 
in such large numbers, visits Heligoland, famed for the richness of 
its avifauna, so sparingly that no special method exists for its 
capture. There is, indeed, the throstle-bush, designed as much for 
it as for all its other near relations ; but it only enters it in 
extremely exceptional instances, and then, for the most part, only 
towards evening with the intention of passing the night there. 
During the day the flocks which make their stay here frequent the 
pastures of the Upper Plateau. Even then, however, as also dui'ing 
their migrations and local peregrinations, their social instinct 
betrays itself, for although large companies of them may gi-adually, 
while searching for food, get scattered over wide grassy plains, they 
nevertheless all take to the wing at one and the same time, and 
forthwith congregate into fairly dense droves. These, after flying for 
some distance, suddenly and again simultaneously alight upon some 
other spot. These birds are altogether of a very restless disposition, 
and, unlike other Thrushes, make their loud call-notes heard con- 
tinuously as they run or fly about, their unsettled bearing giving 
one the impression that they were anxious to get off" again as soon 
as possible. This, indeed, is possibly the case, their flight to 
Heligoland from their breeding places in Scandinavia being too 
short a stage of the whole migration journey to evoke the desire 
for a steady rest. In most cases, too, companies of this kind resume 
their journey after only a few hours, while numerous large droves 
pass the island both day and night without halting on their 
passage. In the day they invariably migrate in close companies ; 
and though these do not fly in such densely-crowded droves as, for 
instance, the Starlings, they yet always keep close together. This, 
however, is quite difl'erent on dark autumn nights, when, judging 
from their calls, they travel singly and apart, although spread far 
and near over the whole firmament. 

The autumn migration of this species seldom commences before 
the end of October, continues through the whole of November, and 
extends not only to the close of the year, but often even far into 
January of the following year. Thus, in my diary for 1884, 1 find 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 247 

the note, ' Many pilaris^ not only under the dates 20th, 24th, and 
30th December, but also as late as on the 8th, 12th, 13th, and 2Sth 
of the following January. February appears to be the only month 
of rest for this species, and even then a sudden frost and heavy 
snowfall may drive southward such flocks as have still lingered 
in the north. 

The return passage begins in March; and, strange to say, flights 
of hundreds of birds are still regularly met with in the course of 
ilay, hopping about for half the day on the grass plains, and 
continuing their journey in the evening. 

The movements of this Thrush seem to be as unrestrained in 
respect to the time of day as they are in regard to the seasons. 
Like other Thrushes, the birds prefer the night for their passage, 
but they also arrive at all times of the day in flocks consisting of 
twenty, fifty, but mostly of hundreds of individuals. 

The arrival of a migratory host of such dimensions in dull and 
misty weather presents a curious scene. At a height of about 
three hundred feet the birds cannot be seen under such conditions, 
only their harsh ratthng cries are audible through the dense clouds 
of mist. All of a sudden the foremost members of the drove 
become visible, dropping almost perpendicularly. These are followed 
in quick succession, and in a similar manner, by the rest of the 
flock, all alighting on the same spots as those which preceded them, 
so that for several seconds a cascade of living birds is presented to 
our view. 

No doubt a similar precipitation, even if only of solitary indi- 
viduals, also takes place at night ; for on one occasion at least, one 
of these Thrushes had the misfortime, in the dark, to impale 
itself on the lightning conductor of the lighthouse, and that 
■with such force that the point of the rod which had penetrated 
the breast projected several inches on the other side beyond its 
back. 

The Fieldfare breeds in large numbers in Scandinavia, and 
stragglers are met with as far as south Germany. Seebohm found 
the bird on the Jenesei above 70° N. latitude, while Dybowsky has 
met with it on Lake Baikal and in Dailria, so that its breeding 
range undoubtedly extends from Norway in the same latitudes 
through Asia, at least as far as the Lena. 



24S THE BIKPS OF HEUGOL-A.XD 

73.— Dusky Thrush [Bkauxe Dbosskl]. 
lURDUS FUSCATUS, PaUas. 

Turdus fustatui. P;.'. iit>*s.-Jsiai. L 451. 

Of tMs Siberi:\ii Thnish. too. so rarely met witli in Europe, inv 
collection possesses a beautiiul specimen, a yoimg autmun bird in 
fresh miinjured plumage. It was caught here in the throstle-bush 
on the 10th of October ISSO. Ap-irc from this example, the fol- 
lowing are fuUv-corroKirated records of its occurrence in Eiuvpe : 
Bechstein, 1795 : Xavmiann, ISOi : GiglioU, Turin, 1S29 ; Brescia. 
1S44: Genoa. lSt52 : Florence. 1S79. 

Further. Bi^ron de Selys Longchamps, is said to posses a Thrush 
caught in Belgium, which was originally r^^arded as T. naumann% 
but sutsequently proved to be T. fuscattis. 

It is. however, quite possible that a simUar confounding of 
species may have occurred in regard to the Itahan examples, one 
or other examples designated as T. fuscaius belonging really to 
T. naumanni : for it is very siu'prising that this latter species also 
has not been met with among other Siberi;\n Thrushes so nimier- 
ously represented in Italy, especially as in the rest of Europe it has 
occurred in vastly larger numbers than T.fuscatu^. Equally strange 
is it to find, in GigUoh's Fauna Itaiica, how spiuingly Siberian 
Leaf- Warblers and Bimtings are represented in Italy, as compared 
with its richness in Siberian Thrushes. 

The example caught here has all its upper parts of a dusky 
brown, somewhat similar to the colour of the bi\ck of the Fieldfivre 
— a didl dusky ferruginous (^jxx^frofA) colour shining through on the 
covered portions of the feathers. On the riunp this rust colour 
becomes very distinct, but on the upper tail-coverts it is again 
hidden by dusky edges. 

The flight- and tail-feathers are blackish, edged with the colour 
of the back. In the tail-feathers, the edges towards the roots pass 
into a dusky rust eoloiur ; the great wing-coverts as well as the 
secondaries have dull, rust-coloured, well-defined edges, and the 
former, like the posterior flight -feathers, have whitish tips. The 
inn er wing-coverts and the inner webs of the flight-feathers are 
whitish ferruginous {iceisslich-rosfix>th). 

A very broad, dull yellowish white eye-streak runs from the 
nostril to and beyond the ear-coverts ; the sides of the neck and 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 249 

the fore-neck are of similar colour; several rows of the black 
triangular spots characteristic of the Thrushes run down from the 
lower mandible, merging into each other ; and smaller spots of 
the same kind are found scattered on the throat and forehead, very 
frequently, too, on the upper part of the grey-clouded upper breast ; 
here they merge with rows of spots, so as to fonn large blackish- 
brown spots on the sides. The upper breast and flanks of the 
bird are marked on the same plan as in the Fieldfare — i.e. the 
feathers of the head are blackish-brown — this colour passing into a 
dull ferruginous colour at the sides of the breast and flanks, all 
the feathers having dark grey edges, those of the upper breast 
being very narrow, but becoming verj' broad further down so as 
almost to hide the ground colour. Towards the middle of the 
breast some of the feathers have small, blackish, kidney -shaped 
spots. The middle of the breast and the abdomen are of a dull 
white, the under tail-coverts dark ferruginous colour, their shafts 
being whitish, and their tips having white spots so Large as almost 
to completely hide the rust colour of the ground. 

In general the bird nowhere shows any approach to the oUva- 
ceous grey colouring of the upper parts of the other Thnishes, nor 
does its dark ferruginous (rostroth) coloration approximate to the 
beautiful orange brown (rostoran>je) of Naumaim's Thrush. 

The measurements of the bird caught here, taken from the 
freshly-killed exaiaple, are as follows : — Total length, 90.5 ins. 
(230 ram,.); length of wing in repose, .5-31 ins. (13.5 ram.) ; length 
of tail, 4'41 ins. (112 rara.): length of tail uncovered by wings, 
165 in. (42 rara.) ; length of beak, od in. (15 Tnm.) ; length of 
tarsus, 1-06 in. (27 rara.). 

Before the capture of the above-named Thrush in my garden 
on the 1 0th of October, I had seen in the same place on the Sth, a 
Yellow-browed Warbler (Sylvia, superciliosa,) ■. on the 11th, a Little 
hunting (Eraheriza pucsilla) was shot; while the Siberian Chiffchaff 
(<S'. tristis), and S. sv.perciliosa, were seen on the same day ; on the 
25th, a beautiful »S'. superciliosa was shot, and on the following 
day an example of the same species and one of E. pjiisilla were 
seen. A S. superciliosa had already been observed on the 16th ; 
on the 17th, hundreds of thousands of Siskins covered the whole 
island, and passed in cloud-like droves; and on the same day I 
obtained a young grey autumn bird of the Rosy Pastor {Stumua 
roaeus). 

Seebohm, in the coiu^e of his interesting Siberian voyage, found 
some nests of this Thrush on the Lower Jenesei ; thence its breed- 
ing range extends eastwards through northern Asia. 



250 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

74.— Red-throated Thrush [Rothhals-Drossel]. 
TURDUS RUFICOLLIS, Pallas. 

Tur(his ruficollis. Naumann, xiii. 316. 

Red-throated Thrush. Dresser, ii. 67. 

Tardus mficoUis. Pallas, Zoog. Ross.-Asiat. i. 452. 

Of all its far eastern relatives, this beautiful Siberian Thrush 
has been the rarest visitor to Europe ; besides the example killed 
here, only two other instances of its actual occurrence appear to be 
known : one of these was caught in October 1836 in the neighbour- 
hood of Dresden, while the other was discovered by Altum among 
other Thrushes in the mai-ket at Mlinster, in November 1866 
{Journal filr Ornith. 1866, p. 423 ; 1S67, p. 109). The example 
found in Heligoland, a young bird in its first autumn plumage, was 
shot at the end of November 1843, on the open and freely exposed 
plain of the Upper Plateau. 

In this example all the upper parts, the ear-coverts, and sides of 
the neck, are of a dingy dark olive grey (olivengrau), with some 
admixture of earth colour (erdfarben) ; the whole coloration — 
especially on the rump — somewhat approaching that of a Son^ 
Thrush in faded plumage. The fore-neck from the bill and ear- 
coverts downwards is shot with dingy butf colour (rostgelb); the sides 
of the upper breast clouded with dull olivaceous brown {olivenbraun ): 
on the sides of the breast and on the flanks, the colour is a faded 
light olive grey (olivengrau), each feather having a slightly darker, 
much blurred marking along its middle. A dull, very faint eye-streak 
commences above the eye, and terminates above the ear-coverts. 
Several rows of blackish brown spots extend downwards along the 
neck, and a few small, somewhat blurred triangular spots are dift'uselj' 
scattered upon the ujjper breast. The flight-feathers and rectrices 
are somewhat darker than the back, the former having very faint, 
less pale edges, and only a few of the great covert-feathers have dull 
whiti.sh tips. The lower wing-coverts are somewhat faintly rust- 
coloured (matt rostfarben), neither ferruginous (rostroth) nor buff 
colour (rostgelb), but of a tint intermediate between these two shades. 
The tail forms the chief mark of distinction between this species 
and a young Black-throated Thrush, being in the latter blackish 
brown, without a trace of rust colour, while in the present species, 
in the inner webs of its feathers, especially those of the outer- 
most pair, there is a very strong admixture of rust colour ; this 
difference becomes remarkably striking on holding, side by side 
with an example of the present species, a Black-thi-oated Thrush of 



o 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 251 

the same age ; moreover, in T. ruficollis, the shafts of the tail- 
feathers are whitish rust coloured, which is not the case in T. 
atricjularis. 

The middle of the breast, the belly, and under tail-coverts are 
in both species pure white : whilst, however, in T. ruficoUis, the 
longest of the latter feathers are only slightly tinged towards their 
roots with olivaceous grey (olivengrau), they are, in T. atrigularis, 
almost entirely olivaceous greyish brown (olivengrcvubraun), which 
colour also persists over a large part of the next pair of feathers. 

Dresser says that the nest of this species has not yet been dis- 
covered ; but it must breed far up in northern Asia, since it has 
been met with on migration from the Obi to the sea of Ochotsk. 
In the case of the first-named river, we have only one record of its 
discovery, viz. that of Finch ; but Prjewalsky notes it for north 
Mongolia as the most numerous of all the Thrushes which pass 
through that district ; while Swinhoe met with migrants of this 
species in Northern China. One might therefore expect to dis- 
cover its nesting places chiefly in the Lena district, especially since 
Seebohm does not appear to have met with this species among the 
rich store of Thrushes taken by him at the Jenesei. 

I have in my possession an egg alleged to belong to this Thrush, 
which I received in 1874 from Taczanowsky. It resembles a small, 
very finely and densely spotted egg of T. torquatiis, and is 1-14 in. 
(29 mm.) long, and "82 in. (21 min.) broad. 



75. — Black-throated Thrush [Schwaezkehlige Dkossel]. 
TURDUS ATRIGULARIS, Temminck. 

Tnrdus Bechsteinii. Naumann, ii. 310 ; T. atrigularis, xiii. 330. 

Black-throated Thrush. Dresser, ii. 83. 

Merle a (jorge noire. Temminck, Manitel, i. 169, iii. 93. 

Though my collection is gi-aced by the presence of many rare 
and beautiful Thrushes, I have just cause for bitter regret at seeing 
the place of the present species still unoccupied. The bird has been 
killed, so to speak, all around this island, — in England, Belgium, 
I)enmai-k, Sweden, East Prussia, ilecklenburg, and Oldenburg, 
whilst from twenty to thirty instances of its occurrence are recorded 
from Central Europe. Heligoland, however, has up to the jjresent 
not been recorded as a locality. On one occasion, it is true, a 
beautiful old male was seen late in May in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the island — so near, in fact, that the yellow basal por- 
tion of its bill could be recognised quite distinctly. Unfortunately 
the general migration was already at an end, no gun was at hand, 



252 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

and the nets had long since been removed from the throstle- 
bushes. Consequently, this bird with its beautiful collar of black 
velvet failed to obtain the honour of a prominent place in the 
select circle of my cabinet. 

The breeding range of this species lies chiefly in western Asia. 
Sewertzoff met with it nesting abundantly in Turkestan ; Dybowsky 
less numerously during its migration in Dauuria. 



76. — Ring Ousel [PaNGORossEL]. 
TURDUS TORQUATUS, Linn, 

Heligolandish : Kringelt-Troossel = iJtrej-2'A.rMsA. 

Turdiis torquattis. Naumann, ii. 318. 

Ring- Ousel. Dresser, ii. 91. 

Merle plastron. Teraininck, Manuel, i. 166, iii. 89. 

As already mentioned, this Thrush is, of aU the species occurring 
here, the most in demand by the local fowlers; unfortunately it 
appears in but limited numbers, while its late arrival in the spring 
announces the approaching end of the thrush-catching season. Its 
migration lasts from the middle of April until the middle of May, and 
is dependent on warm weather, with east or south-easterly winds ; 
the return passage takes place in September. 

This Thrush, also, has a liking for associating itself with com- 
panies of individuals of its own species, especially when on the wing, 
and very readily follows the lure-call of another bird of its species. 
This social inclination is of advantage to the fowler ; for though 
only one Ring Ousel may happen to get into the throstle-bush, 
its call lures all the members of any flock that happens to be wheel- 
ing about at the time to jjrecipitate themselves forthwith into the 
bush. Thus, on one occasion, a thrush catcher had the unexampled 
good fortune to take seventy-three of these splendid birds in one 
' rush,' in the garden now belonging to me. In general, from ten 
to twelve examples are considered a sufficiently enviable catch. 

The Ring Ousels frequent by preference the grassy places near 
the edge of the cliff", and the upper portions of its face. 

Quite contrary to Naumanu's statement, however, in regard to 
these birds, viz. that ' they are not shy, but confiding — one might 
indeed say stupid' — they are here, next to the Missel Thrush, the 
shyest and most cunning of all the Thrushes, and can be approached 
with a gun only under the most favourable conditions. 

The Ring Ousel breeds throughout the whole of Europe from 
Spain to the Ural. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 253 

77. — Blackbird [Schwaezdrossel]. 
TURDUS MERULA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Swart-Troossel=jBZaci Thrush. 

Turdus merula. Naumann, ii. 326. 

Blackbird. Dresser, ii. 91. 

Merle noir. Temminck, Manuel, 68, iii. 90. 

Strange to sa}', in its manner and habits this Thrush, during 
its visits to Heligoland, differs from the description by so unassail- 
able an authority as Naumann, almost as markedly as we had 
occasion to note in regard to the preceding species. Similar 
observations made on many other visitors to Heligoland lead 
ine to suspect that during the migi-ation the birds assume certain 
special manners and peculiarities — manitres de voyage — which 
are more or less at variance with their ordinary habits of life. 
Hence inter alia we can in no way regard the Blackbird's manner 
here as ' extremely distrustful, cautious, or clever ' ; on the other 
hand, it would be equally inadmissible to call them simple or 
stupid, as their elegant appearance would in itself contradict such 
an assertion. For instance, when I step into my garden, which 
is about eighty feet long, with a throstle-bush at its farthest 
end, and happen to find an old male Blackbird sitting in the 
middle of the garden, the bird will not on my approach at 
once fly oft' with loud cries, but hop towards the throstle-bush 
quietly in long leaps, and with frequent pauses. This mancBUvre 
is performed with particular ease if the bird happen to be in 
the straight path which leads to the bush, and which is bordered 
by gooseberry and currant bushes on both sides. Under these con- 
ditions, the bird will not infrequently even make a slight turn to 
one side, in order to pick up quite leisurely some insect or worm 
that it may have espied there. Nor must one by any means sup- 
pose that this behaviour of the bird is due to its being fatigued 
from its journey, or half-starved ; on the contrary, the birds are 
almost always, particularly during the autumn migi'ation, actually 
enveloped in fat. The Heligolandish fowlers' report in regard to the 
Blackbird is to this eff'ect : ' A very sensible bird, which allows 
itself to be driven to the throstle-bush without making much fuss.' 
The reader -will perhaps remember how very differently the Song 
Thrush behaves under similar circumstances. 

The spring migration of this Thrush commences very early in 
mild weather; the first examples arrive as early as the end of 
February, or even somewhat earlier. The main body, however. 



254 THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

arrives during the course of March, the last stragglers bringing the 
spring inigration to a close in the middle of April. The birds 
return from their breeding quarters from the middle of October to 
the middle of November; after the latter month, however, one 
may exjicct to come across solitary examples, or even groups of 
from twenty to thirty individuals, at all times of the winter. Thus, 
at the end of December 187G, sotuo twenty birds visited my garden 
almost daily, where they greedily devoured the berries on the 
thorn-bushes. Despite the sharp winter weather, these birds were 
very plump, as was also the case with the numerous Fieldfares 
which accompanied them. 

Winter visitants like these are invariably old Inrds, the large 
majority males, with orange-yellow bills ; those, doubtless, had 
purposed wintering in their breeding quarters, but were driven out 
by the advent of severe cold and snow ; indeed, as soon as the 
weather becomes milrler, they at once disappear again. 

Urdikc all its other generic relatives, this Thrush by preference 
frequents the grottos and clefts at the base of the rock. But birds 
which have chosen such spots for their place of residence during the 
winter months, have fed largely on thelarvie of marine insects, which 
occur there in great abundance, and have therel)y acquired so un- 
pleasant a smell and taste that they arc literally unfit for food. 

The lilackl^ird furnishes excellent proof of the dillercnce in the 
time of the migratory flight of different ages and sexes ; for the 
glossy l)lack colour of the earliest spring arrivals leaves no doubt 
as to their being old males. In the course of a week or two they 
are joined by the greyish-brown females ; with the gradually 
increasing numbers of the latter are associated young birds, in wliose 
plumage the reddish-brown colour is more pronounced. Now 
and again a solitary black individual with orange bill may bo found 
artiong the.so last stragglers; these invariably, as is proved on 
examination after capture, have suffered some injury or other. 
Some of the tf)es, or a foot, have been lost ; or the tail or one of the 
wings has suffered a great loss of feathers ; or some other injury 
suflicient to delay their passage has been sustained. The autunm 
migration proceeds in similar unchanging sequence; only, in this 
case, the migration begins with the arrival of the young birds, and 
terminates with that of the old ones. Hence it has become i)ro- 
verbiid among the fowlers of Heligoland that when the (liihl- 
wMeUsn — i.e. ' the yellow-billed birds ' begin to arrive, the Thrush 
season is on the wane. 

The spring and autuirm migration of all other s))ccics ])rocce<ls 
in the same socjuence as regards age, with the sole exception of 
the Cuckoo. 



THE BIEPS OF H FTT GOLAND 255 



The ElickcLni is a resident breeding I.: 
Europe and Xcrth Africa : in Scandinavia it aj; - . 
polar circle 

78. — American Eobin "Wo-ri^ 
TURBUS MIGRATORIUS. 



U^ -*^ -O^- • 



At ; :, found bring on .- . -- . 

■^ oi the 14di of Ociooer IST-k haTing un- 
-r-^ .::^-rli against the glasses, famishes ""r : - " -r-- • 
of the occurrenc-e of -Ms species in Heligoland. T 
bird was of neddish-brovm coloar: 

white, ^-- - - Unfbitanateh-, I did no'. , _ .„ . . . „_. 

collcoti - 

Theie oc-curred in that vear a Tery pow^erfdl migiat: 
srvMu the far East: on the 11th of October a £7^t'ia - ~ . 

and on the 13th and 14th an example of EmberiBa ~ere 

killed. Akiuda aljpe^ris occorred in laige qaantitie;5 
hundreds until the aid of the nKunth. On the _'' 
the same Tear also — thoogh this has no cann 
species at {oeseat under con^deraticat — I obtain:, 
onhr example of Alauda tatarica, a female, whicL _.jo . 
shot hereL The aboTe-mexiti<Hied example of this species 
the present instance, hare reached Heligoland via A- 
cre<ssed over to the latter continent &om Xorth Anrr' . 

Aleutiangioapof islands; the £ict of the simalt&:v ~ 
of the other species mentioned above, as we" - 
rear at which it was met with, strongfy sup^.r; :^^ .... - ^; ..^ 
pursuii^ an east-to-west line of migration. 

According to Dalgleishs investigations ((^Otacjinreiios? «:>r Xorik 
American Birds in Europe., Bullet of Cattail Ctob. t. ISSOV this 
Thrush has been met with in Europe on five occasions : once in the 
bird-market at Berlin, the example being preserved in the Badzi- 
wiU ColIeeti<m : twice in the bird-market at Yienna, and once in 
Bohemia: two of these latter example are preserved in the 
Imperial and Boyal Museum in Tienna : finally, one example w«s 
caught near Dover in the spring of 1S76- 

The breeding range of this species extends over the whole of 
North America. 



256 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

79.- — Bock Thrush [Steindrossel]. 

TURDUS SAXATILIS, Latham.^ 

Heligolandish : Styahn-Troossel = .S'fonc Thrush. 

Turdus saxatilis. Naumann, ii. 348. 

Rock Thrush. Dresser, ii. 129. 

Merle de roche. Temniinck, Manuel, i. 172, iii. 102. 

Of this southern species I obtamed a beautiful old male and 
female in breeding plumage, and a young bird in fresh autumn 
plumage. The birds might seem to have been picked for my 
collection, for during the whole time of my residence here only 
two or three other examples have been seen, without, however, 
being shot. Reymers and Koopmann, however, must have obtained 
it before my time, for the bird was well known to the shooters 
and fowlers of that period. 

The male was shot on the 9th of May 1851, the female on the 
17th of May 1860, and the young bird on the 12th of November 
1874. At first I was much surprised to obtain this young bird 
here, but when I afterwards learnt that this species breeds in all 
the mountain ranges of central and southern Asia, the occurrence 
of this individual during the autumn migration did not appear any 
more strange than that of many other species from eastern Asia. 
The time of occurrence of the two old birds, on the other hand, 
leads one to conclude decisively that their home was in the south, 
or rather, south-east. 

The Rock Thrush breeds in almost all the mountain chains of 
southern and central Europe, from Portugal to the Caucasus ; also 
throughout the whole of central Asia, fi-om Turkestan to China. 

In England it has only been shot twice, and in northern 
Germany it has probably never been observed. Heligoland 
would appear to be the most northern point of its occurrence. 



80. — Blue Rock Thrush [Blaudrossel]. 

TURDUS CYANUS, Linn.^ 

Turdus cyanvs. Naumann, ii. 341. 

Blue Rock Thrush. Dresser {Monticola {Petrocossyphus) cyanus), ii. 149. 

Merle bleu. Temminck, JVfajiKC?, i. 173, iii. 103. 

Many years ago, about 1830-1832, this Thrush was once caught 
in the throstle-bush ; the bird in question was an old male, for it 

1 Moniicola saxatilis {Linn.). - Monticola cyanus (\Ann.). 



THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 257 

has always been described to me as a very beautiful blue Thrush. 
The correctness of this record was proved later on, on my showing 
to the person who had captured the example referred to above a 
number of skins, and amongst these one of this species ; for he 
at once picked out the latter, sa^-ing : ' That 's the Thrush I once 
caught, but mine was a uuich finer bird.' 

This Thrush breeds in almost all southern rocky mountain- 
chains from Portugal to the Himalayas, including the rocky islands 
of the Mediterranean. In the north, its breeding range extends to 
Switzerland and the Tyrol. 

81. — Cat-Bird [Blaugraue Deossel]. 
TURDUS LIVIDUS,' Wilson. 

Turdus (Mimus) carolinensis. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtruge, p. 51. 
Cat-bird. Turdi<s Uvidus. Wilson, Amer. Oin., ii. 90. 
Orpheus carolinensis, Linn. Audubon, Syn. of Birds of K. Amcr., p. 88. 
Orpheus felifox. Eichardson and Swainson, Faun. Bar. 

Amer., p. 192. 

The specimen of this small American Thrush in my possession is 
the only one of this interesting species that has ever been caught in 
Europe. It was shot here on the 28th of October 1840 by Oelrich 
Aeuckens, — the eldest of the three brothers, commonly called 'Oelk.' 

This distinguished ' honorary citizen ' would most probably 
have been lost to the list of the birds of Heligoland had not 
Eeymers managed, by strategy, to get the rare stranger into his 
possession. Considering the almost bitter jealousy which at that 
time existed between the three stui^'ers and salesmen of birds of 
this island, Reymers could not think of obtaining the bird from 
Oelk by way of purchase. Fortunately', however, a stranger was 
staying on the island that winter who had dealings with Reymers, 
and he, before his departure in the spring, went to Oelk for the 
purpose of buying a few birds for a friend. He bought a Great 
Titmouse, a Bluethroat, and this Cat-Bird (Tardus Uvidus). Of 
course, the friend was no other than Reymers. Six years later I 
obtained the bird from the latter, after much trouble and pressure. 
On Aeuckens espying the specimen in my collection, he said at 
once that he also had shot one like it several years ago, and had 
sold it to a stranger. I can still see the simple-hearted old fellow's 
face when I replied that it was the very same bird, and told him the 
whole story : nor am I inclined to believe that this little instance 
of ' sharp practice ' stands alone in the annals of the acquisition of 
ornithological rarities. 

' Galeoscoptes carolinennii (Linn.). 
R 



258 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

The plumage of this bird, though very simple, is nevertheless 
attractive. All the upper and lower parts are of a uniform slaty- 
blue grey (schiefer-hlaugraii), the colour on the breast and belly 
being somewhat lighter than on the back. The crown and tail are 
deep black, the flight-feathers blackish. The lower tail-coverts 
present a remarkable and striking deviation from this otherwise 
simple dress, being of a vivid reddish chestnut brown {kastanien- 
rothbraun), almost exactly like the colour of the corresponding 
feathers in the Waxwing. The bill and feet are black. 

The measurements of the Heligoland example are as follows : — 
Total length, 7-20 ins. (183 mm.); length of the short and roundish 
wings, 3-46 ins. (88 mm.); length of tail, 3-78 ins. (96 mm.); length 
of tail uncovered by wings, 2-88 ins. (73 «Mn.); length of beak, 
•67 in. (17 vim.); height of tarsus, 119 in. (30 mm.). 

Swainson's measurements {Fauna Bor. Amer.) are slightly 
larger than the above. 

On the wing the fourth and fifth flight-feathers are longest, the 
third only slightly shorter; the second is of the same length as 
the eighth. In the tail, which is rounded, the outermost pair of 
feathers is '78 in. (20 mm.) long, and the adjacent pair '39 in. 
(10 mm.) shorter than the four inner pairs. 

The peculiar eggs of this Thrush are of striking beauty. The 
coloration, though of a simple uniform bluish green, is of such depth 
and richness as is not met with, even approximately, in the eggs of 
any European species. The darkest eggs of the Hedge-sparrow are 
beside them as light and pale as those of the Conmion Stonechat 
are beside those of the Hedge-sparrow. Their measurements are : 
Length, -98 in. (2.5 mm.) : breadth, -67 in. (17 971771.). 

This species is distributed as breeding bird over almost the 
whole of North America, from Texas to Canada. 

82. — Brown Thrasher [Rostrothe Drossel]. 
TURDUS RUFUS, Linu.i 

Tiirdns {Taxastoma) rufus. N;uniiann, xiii. ; Blasius, 

Naclitrdge, p. 54. 

Brown Thrush. Orpheus rufus. Audubon, Syn. of Birds of 

N. America, p. 88. 

Orpheus rufus. Richardson and Swaiiison, 

Faun. Bor. Amer., p. 189. 

The only example of this peculiar American species ever ob- 
served here was caught late in the autumn of 1836, and, together 
with a Sea Eagle shot by the same fowler — Claus Siemens — was 
' Harporhynchiis rufus (Linn.). 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 259 

sold and taken to Hamburg. All efforts on my part to get the 
specimen back have unfortunate]}- proved unsuccessful. 

All the upper parts of this Thrasher, including the tail and the 
outer webs of all the flight-feathers, are bright rust colour; the larger 
and middle outer wing-coverts have yellow tips, edged on the 
upper surface with brownish black. The under side of the bird 
is whitish, with a tinge of dull rust colour, especially on the neck 
and upper breast. A row of the small triangular spots charac- 
teristic of the Thrushes runs down from the lower mandible. The 
feathers of the upper breast and breast have larger spots of this 
kind, and on the flanks they assume an oval form. The middle of 
the breast and belly and the dull rust-coloured under tail-coverts 
are not spotted. 

The bill is of a horny black colour, the mandibvdar portion 
being yellow. The feet are of a j'ellowish flesh colour, and the 
iris, strange to say, light yellow. The wing is short and roundish, 
its second flight-feather being of the same length as the ninth ; 
the third is a little shorter than the fourth, tifth, and si.xth, these 
being the longest feathers. In the tail, which is rounded, the 
outermost pair of feathers is '78 in. (20 vim.) shorter than the 
more median pairs. 

The total length of the bird is 10-23 ins. (260 mm.); length of 
the wings, 406 ins. (103 7?im.); length of tail, 5-31 ins. (135 mm.); 
length of tail uncovered by wings, 4-41 ins. (112 mm.); length of 
bill from forehead to tip, '98 in. (2.5 inm.); length of tarsus, 
1-30 in. (33 mm.) 

According to Audubon, the bird is a very common breeder 
throughout North America, from Texas northwards. Swainson 
states that it is met with as far as 54° N. lat. Its eggs are of a 
peculiar beauty, and cannot be confounded with those of any 
European species. Their ground colour is a very pale bluish 
green, which is, however, almost entirely hidden by innumerable 
very small bright ferruginous dots. Their length is 1-02 in. 
(26 m-m.); breadth, -75 in. (19 mm.). 

83. — Palestine Bulbul [Gelbsteiss-Deossel]. 
TURDUS XANTHOPYGUS.i 

Ixos Vaillanti. C. L. Brehni, Vogelfang, p. 221. 

Palestine Bulbul. Dresser, iii. 357. 

Pycnotus xanthopygus. Tristram, Westeryi Palestine, p. 57. 

The primitive ornithologists of this island, Messrs. Koopmann, 
Reymers, and Oelk, held firmly to the principle : ' It is good 

' Pycnonolus xauthopygim (Hemp, and Ehr. ), 



260 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

fishing in troubled waters ' ; or, in other words : — Let nobody know 
that there are birds which are rare and vakiable ; though, to be 
sure, they themselves would not have been capable of divulging 
much information on this score, even had they had the wish to do 
so. Acting, accordingly, on this principle, Reymers, when pur- 
chasing the bird which was taken in May 1837, told the captor 
that it was a young Golden Oriole, in which the under tail-coverts 
were only then beginning to get yellow. 

In the course of the sunnner the bird was sold to one of the 
few visitors who at that time used to come for the sea-bathing 
(Badegaste), and I have unfortunately been unable to obtain any 
further trace of it. I was more fortunate in regai'd to a Demoiselle 
Crane (Grus virgo), shot in May of the same year on Sandy 
Island by Reymers, which, after remaining for about forty years 
in the Museum of Hamburg, I restored to Heligoland. It would 
be interesting to find out whether these two birds occurred here 
on one and the same daj- — a supposition, the truth of which, 
after many later experiences of the same kind, I am scarcely in- 
clined to doubt. The home of both species lies in the same 
direction, viz. far south-east relativel}' to this island; and I have 
observed a very large number of cases in which individuals of 
different species, but from a common home, made their appear- 
ance here simultaneously. Thus, Ehrenberg's Redstart {Sylvia 
niesoZeuca) and the Paddy-field \Yarbler (S. agricola) on the 12tli of 
June 1864, White's Thrush {Turdus varius) and two examples of the 
Yellow-browed Warbler (»S'. superciliosa) on the 4th of October of 
the same year ; Emheriza ecesia and Saxicola morio on the 9th of 
May 1867 ; and on the 19th of September of the same year one 
example of the Little Bunting {Emheriza pusilla) and two of S. 
supercilio»i ; on the 22nd of May 1859 the Short-toed Lark 
{Alauda hrachydacft/Ia) and Cretzschmar's Bunting (Emheriza 
caisia); on the 4th of June the Red-footed Falcon {Falco rv.fipes) 
and Alauda brachydactyla ; on the 18th of June 1860 the Black- 
headed Bunting (E. melanocepltala) and Eastern Golden Plover 
{Charadriiis fulvas). To these may be added innumerable similar 
cases from other years in my diary, but the above-mentioned ones 
may be sufficient for the present purpose. 

The simple dress of this bird has in its general character much 
similarity to that of Turdus lividus. Thus, while the general 
colour of the body is quite inconspicuous, the head has a deep 
black marking, and the under tail-coverts are ver}' bright coloured. 
Only in the present species the bodj- is not bluish grey, but of a dull 
light greyish brown (^/'h/jc /(c/Z grauhraun), the lower parts being 
whity brown, and the under tail-coverts, as well as those next to 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 261 

the vent, of a brilliant chrome yellow. Moreover, the deep black 
markings of the head extend in this species over the ear-coverts 
and throat. In this species too the wing is abruptly rounded ; its 
second tlight-feather very short, of the same length as the tenth . 
the third and seventh are of equal length, and only '12 in. 
(3 mni.) shorter than the fourth, tifth, and sixth, which form the 
tip of the wing. The tail is almost squarely truncate, its outer- 
most pair of feathers being only slightly shorter than the rest. 

The total length of this bird is cS07 ins. (205 mm.); length of 
the wing, 3-74 ins. (95 mm.); length of tail, 3-73 ins. (9G mm.); 
length of beak, '71 in. (IS mm.) ; length of tarsus, -94 in. 
(24 mm.) 

The breeding range of this species is rather limited, extending 
only over Arabia, Palestine, and Asia Minor as far as Greece and 
the Archipelago. The eggs are very beautiful. The ground colour 
is a reddish white, with a fiiirly large number of violet-grey 
blotches, and a very rich marking of partly round, partly u-regular 
violet-red spots and dots. In some of the eggs these markings are 
evenly distributed, ua others they are somewhat accumulated at 
the thick end. They are of a longitudinally pointed form, 1'02 in. 
(36 mm.) long and -67 in. (17 mm..) broad. 

There is little doubt that another example of this species 
occurred here about fifteen years ago. An old and trustworthy 
fowler very nearly had got it in his throstle-bush, but the bird 
managed to escape again. He described it as grey, with black 
head, and yellow feathers below the tail, as yellow ' as dandelions ' 
(Leontodon taraxacum). The time was late in May. 



Song-Birds — Sijlvia'. — Of the family of Song-birds remarkable 
for its richness in individuals, about one hundred and fifty sjjecies 
are distributed over all the temperate and warm countries of the 
earth. These have come by degrees to be divided into more than 
ten genera, which, however, in the present work, will all be cited 
under their original designation as Sylvia?. Fifty of these species 
are resident breeding birds in Europe, thirty-nine of whom visit 
Heligoland in gi'eater or less numbers. Apart from these, how- 
ever, some few others, belonging to Asia and America, have occurred 
here, and in consequence have been newly added to European lists 
as ' honorary citizens.' These are : — 

S. fuscatus, proregulus, coronata, viridana, nitidus, certhiola, 
and virens. 



262 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

84. — Common Nightingale [Nachtigall]. 
SYLVIA LUSCINIA, Latham.^ 

Sylvia luscinia. Naumann, ii. 378. 

Common Nightingale. Dresser, ii. 363. 

Bcc-fin Tossigmil. Teinminck, Manuel, i. 195, iii. 125. 

Heligoland, whose superior rank in the domain of bird-life is 
uncontested by the proudest empire, in one respect onl^' — but that 
a most sensitive one — may be beaten by the poorest village which 
possesses nothing more than a small brook or pond, surrounded 
by bushy woodlands. There, blossoming spring will certainly not 
fail to bring with it the soulful song of the Nightingale ; whereas 
the steep and naked rocks of this island have never yet re-echoed 
with its poetic strophes. At the same time, the species cannot by any 
means be reararded as of rare occurrence here. But for it, as for all 
the other wanderers of the air, Heligoland is merely an insignificant 
half-way house, Avhere the larger hosts halt for a moment's brief 
rest and refreshment, or for temporary shelter against stress of 
weather, but which they never choose as a lasting abode for 
their cosy nests or amorous songs. 

Solitary examples of the Nightingale arrive in Heligoland from 
about the middle of Ajml to the middle of May, with light southerly 
and south-easterly winds, esisecially if these are accompanied in the 
early hours by a fine light rain. I do not remember ever having 
seen the bird here in autumn. Aeuckens, however, insists on 
having met with it in one or two instances at that season. 

The breeding range of the Nightingale extends from Portugal 
(Cintra) over the whole of southern and central Europe, its num- 
bers, however, decreasing towards the east. Towards the north its 
nesting stations extend to England, in solitary instances even to 
Denmark, where however its begins to be replaced by the 
Northern N ightingale. 

An interesting but unsuccessful attempt was made to get the 
bird to settle in the north of Scotland. A number of eggs were 
obtained from the neighbourhood of London and placed in the 
nests of Robins, which readily reared them. All the young 
Nightingales left in September, without however returning the 
following spring. (Newton in Yarrell's Brit. Birds, 1874, vol. i. 
p. 319.) 

' Daiilias luscinia (Linn.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 263 

85. — Northern Nightingale [Sprosser]. 
SYLVIA PHILOMELA, Bechstem.i 

Sylvia jMlomda. Naumann, ii. 362. 

Northern Nightingale. Dresser, ii. 369. 

Bee-fin philom'eU. Temminck, Manuel, i. 196, iii. 126. 

Although the western limit of its breeding range extends from 
Denmark to eastern Holstein, this bird, except in one solitary 
instance, has never been met with in Heligoland. It would there- 
fore appear that of the many migrants visiting this island from 
high northern latitudes or the far East, few persist with such 
stubbornness in the north-to-south direction of their line of flight 
as does this species. The example referred to above was caught at 
the lighthouse on the night of the 4th-.5th May, and is preserved 
in my collection. 

This bird is found as a resident breeding species from the Pen- 
insula of Jutland, through Denmark, in Lower Sweden, eastern 
Finland, Poland, Hungary, Russia, and Turkestan. Scattered 
examples also occur in eastern Germany. 

86. — Grey-backed Warbler [Rostfarbiger Sanger]. 

SYLVIA FAMILIARIS, Menetries.2 

* 

Sylvia galactodes. Naumann, xiii. 398 ; Blasius, Nachtrdge, p. 62. 

Grey-hacked Warbler. Dresser, ii. 553. 

Bee-fin rubigineux. Temminck, Manuel, i. 182, iii. 129, iv. 615. 

The only example of this southern songster ever caught here 
was obtained by old Koopmann, from whose hands it passed, early 
in the thirties, into the well-known collection of Mechlenburg, an 
apothecary at Flensburg, where it is still to be found. Blasius, 
whose attention I first called to it, saw it there shortly before the 
publication of his Supplements to Naumann ; and Dresser also 
examined it after his visit to me in the summer of 1881. Both 
agree as to its belonging to the Eastern form, »S'. familiaris, under 
which title it has been noted here. 

Up to the present I have not obtained this sjiecies here ; but 
the occurrence of a ' Nightingale with a red tail edged by a beauti- 
fril black and white terminal border,' has been twice reported to 
me. One of these birds was seen by Glaus Aeuckens through a 
gap in a garden hedge. The bird was hopping about, exactly after 

' Daulia^i philomda (Bechst.). - uf^don familiaris (Men^tries). 



264 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

the manner of a Nightingale, a few paces in front of him, but he 
was unfortunately unable to get possession of it. There exists not 
the least doubt as to the identity of the latter species ; on a skin 
from Greece being shown him, Aeuckens at once declared it most 
decisively to belong to the very same species. This is further cor- 
roborated by the time of its occurrence on a May morning, and 
under meteorological conditions most favourable to the appearance 
of south-eastern strangers. 

The nesting stations of this species extend from Greece through 
Asia Minor, Syria, Turkestan, and Persia to central India. A 
variety breeding in south-western Europe, distinguished from the 
present species by the somewhat more pronounced ferruginous 
colouring of its ujiper jJarts, has been established as an independent 
species under the name of Sylvia galactodcs. This western foi'm 
has been twice shot in England, the birds being undoubtedly 
individuals that had resumed their sjiring migi-ation, after having 
lost their mates at the beginnmg of the breeding season, and thus, 
by following a line of flight in a northward direction, had reached 
Great Britain vid Spain. This subject has been discussed more 
fully in the section on Migration and in other portions of this work. 



87. — Red-spotted Bluethroat [Nokdisches Blaukehlchen]. 

SYLVIA SUECICA, Linn.» 

Heligolandish : Blu-Hemmel-Fink = £^i(e Skyhird. 

Sylvia {Cyanecula) suecica. Naumann, xiii. 387 ; Blasius, Naclitrdge, 59. 

Red-spotted Bhidhroat. Dresser, ii. 317. 

Bee-fin gorye bleve. Temminck, Manuel, iii. 143. 

One would hardly believe that the home of so lovely a creature 
as the Bluethroat extended so far north as the coast of the Polar 
Sea, jDarticularly as its beautiful azure blue and rusty orange dress 
gives one the impression of its being a native of tropical latitudes. 
As a matter of fact, its life is divided between its Arctic nesting 
stations and its winter quarters, which extend to the hot regions of 
central Africa and southern Asia. 

The migratory flights of this little bird between regions so 
widely separated have furnished the most interesting material 
towards a final .solution of a hitherto open question, viz. What is 
the greatest speed attainable by a bird during its migration flight ? 
and have j' ielded the astounding result of one hundred and eighty 
geographical miles per hour. In regard to this inquiry also, as in 

' Cyanecula suecica (Linn.), 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 265 

so many other cases, this little island has proved itself to be a true 
ornithological observatory. Its meridian represents the extreme 
western limit of the migratory flight of this Bluethroat between its 
breeding stations and its winter quarters, and it is in only isolated 
instances that this limit is ever exceeded. 

During its spring passage from central and northern Africa to 
the north of Scandinavia, this bird has, according to Giglioli, been 
met with in Italy only in very isolated instances, in the proportion 
of one to a hundred of S. leucocyana. The same is stated respecting 
Austria (Backofen von Echt). In the whole of Germany, too, it is 
during the spring months of rarest occurrence. Naumann says, 
' Only single individuals are, in rare instances, met with on the 
banks of rivers in Thuringia, near Dresden, Vienna, and other 
places.' Dr. Rey has met with this species near Leipzig only in 
autumn, never in spring, and knows of only one mstance of its 
capture, by a friend of his, during the latter season. Mr. W. 
Schliiter of Halle states that during his long experience he has 
never met with nor received this bird during its spring migration, 
and has obtained but few specimens during autumn. 

Respecting northern Germany, Sylvia suecica has, according 
to recent statements, not only been met with in isolated instances, 
but, surprising as it may appear, has actually remained to breed 
near Waren in Mecklenburg, and near Em den in Friesland. These 
statements, the validity of which cannot fairly be doubted, do not, 
however, in any way affect the above conclusions as to the mar- 
vellous rate of flight of this bird during its spring migration, for 
the latter two localities are situated only two-thirds of a degree 
to the south of Heligoland, equal to a flight of about thirteen 
minutes. 

In Heligoland, on the other hand, this bird is, during the same 
migration period, of quite common and generally known occurrence. 
In the absence of cold and dry northerly winds at the end of May 
and April, it appears here as a daily visitor, and if, in addition, 
the weather be warm and fine, with a light south-east wind, it 
frequently occurs in such large numbers that, on days of this kind, 
Oelrich Aeuckens and myself have succeeded in obtaining as many 
as from thirty to fifty male individuals. In fact, I remember one 
occasion, in May 1845 or 1846, when there were some sixty of the 
most beautiful male birds of this species, all picked specimens, 
lying on a large flat dish in my cellar; and I might easily have 
doubled that number had I accepted all that were oflered me on 
the same day. Aeuckens obtained nearly as many, all these birds 
having been caught by boys in nets, inasmuch as grown-up shooters 
here do not trouble to catch them. 



266 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Here, then, we have a bird which during its spring migration is 
met with only in exceptional and always isolated instances in all 
latitudes lying between its winter quarters in Africa and Heli- 
goland. In that island, on the other hand, it is at that par- 
ticular tiine a common daily occurrence, and numbers under 
favourable circumstances up to hundreds of individuals. It 
necessaril}' follows that it accomplishes its journey in one con- 
tinuous flight without staying to rest at any intermediate station 
on its way. 

Like all the Sylviad;e and other insectivorous birds, this species 
travels at night, leaving Africa after sunset and arriving here even 
before sunrise, and thus employing at most only nine hours in this 
extensive flight. Now as the whole distance passed over in these 
nine hours is about sixteen hundred geographical miles, we get the 
truly astounding yet indisputable speed of one hundred and eighty 
miles in one hour. 

During its return passage in autumn this Bluethroat is found 
here very abundantly, as also through the whole of Germany. In 
eastern Europe, too, e.g. Greece, where, according to von der Miihle, 
it is not seen at all m spring, it is then a quite common occurrence. 
At Heligoland, its autumn migration commences about the middle 
of August, and lasts, according to the state of the weather, up to 
the latter half of September. At that time hundreds of these birds, 
in addition to Redstarts, Whinchats, and other species, frequent the 
potato-fields of the Upper Plateau. Strange to say, it then never 
comes into the gardens which form its chief place of resort during 
the spring migration. At the end of April and throughout May it 
may be seen there hopping about among the currant and goose- 
berry bushes, but seems to have a special preference for such places 
as are densely covered with young cabbage shoots. It does not, 
however, despise the dead shrubs of the throstle-bush or shady 
nooks and corners under hedges, and even likes to stay at the base 
of the rock among the rubble, and in dark clefts of the rock. 

This charmmg bird is an extremely confiding creature. If during 
one's garden occupations one pays no S23ecial attention to the bird, 
or pretends not to notice it, it will for hours long hop around near 
one, at twenty, fifteen, or even a less muuber of paces off, sometimes 
in rapid, sometimes in more measured, leaps, catching insects the 
while; at each of its many pauses it gives a jerk with its tail, 
which it has raised above its wings, and looks around with clear, 
dark eyes. If, however, it becomes aware of being watched, it 
vanishes swift as lightning, in long bounds, under some shrubs or 
among some bushes ; only, however, after a few moments, to again 
make its appearance as simple-hearted as before. Often would I 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 267 

have liked to possess some one specimen of these birds whose 
beauty was exceptional, but I could never find heart to do one an 
injury after it had so confidingly given me its entertaining com- 
pany during an hour or so of work in the garden. 

Unfortunately all the song-birds pass Heligoland in silence, and 
of the Bluethroat, too, the only note we hear is a kind of smack 
like ' Tack.' This is specially to be deplored in the case of this 
bhd, for according to Seebohm (Ibis, 1^76, and Siberia in Eurojoe), 
it is not only an excellent songster, nearly coming up to the night- 
ingale in the sweetness and tunefulness of its song, but it is also 
capable of mimicking to the highest perfection the caU-notes and 
songs of all its neighbours. 

The most western breeding stations of this Bluethroat in 
northern Scandinavia extend beyond 70° N. latitude. But on the 
Fjelds of Gudbrandsdalen and the Dovrefjeld in Norway it breeds 
numerously as far south as 62° N. in altitudes jDossessing a climate 
similar to that of their more northern nesting quarters. From 
Finmark and the Waranger Fjord its breeding range extends east- 
wards through the whole of European and Asiatic Russia as far as 
Xamtschatka, and it is even said to have been met with as far east 
as Alaska. Among other investigators, Seebohm met with this 
species in extremely large numbers on the Lower Petchora and 
Lower Jenesei. Von Middendortf met with it in north-eastern 
Asia, and Nordenskjold, during his memorable 'Vega' expedition, 
m the tracts bordering the Arctic Sea. In the.se high latitudes 
the Bluethroat and Eversmann's Warbler, Sylvia borealis, are the 
only members of the Sylvia family whose song enlivens the icy 
solitudes of this Land of the Midnight Sun. 

In England the Red-spotted Bluethroat has, according to 
Newton, been observed only seven times between the years 1826 and 
1872. This extremely rare occurrence of the bird on the other 
side of the North Sea proves how rigidlj* the line of its migratorj- 
flight runs in a direction from north to south, and that its most 
western limit does not reach beyond the meridian of Hehgoland. 

The individuals of this species which nest in northern Europe 
for the most part Avinter in Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia. In 
western Africa it probably occurs only in very rare instances, 
although Carstensen {Naumannia, 1852) notes it among the birds 
collected in northern Fez under Pallas' name, Sylvia coirulecula. 

A noteworthy feature in connection with this Bluethroat is dis- 
played very frequently in the aberrations of the breeding plumage 
of old males. In normally marked individuals, the throat, fore- 
neck, and upper breast are of a beautiful vdtramarine blue, 
terminated by a deep black band, itself edged by a fine white 



268 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

border. This is followed by a broad orange-brown (rostoravge) 
band of double the breadth ; in the centre of the blue marking is a 
large spot of orange-brown. The most frequent aberration from 
this marking is that in which the fine white edge on the upper 
breast is absent, or where the orange-brown spot has a fine white 
seam below. In other examples, again, the black border on the 
upper breast is entirely absent, the orange-brown breast-band being 
then of double the usual breadth ; birds marked like this have a 
very handsome appearance. 

Further, I possess an example, also a very handsome bird, 
in which the orange-brown colour has almost entirely supplanted 
the blue. Even on the chin a few feathers of the former colour 
occur among the blue ones, and very soon entirely replace the 
latter, forming n, very intense orange-brown spot, which coalesces 
with the broad orange-brown breast-band, only a row of isolated 
blue feathers being left as a parting between the two. The black 
band is entirely absent in this specimen. With the exception of 
one bird in autumn plumage, I have not obtained a second 
example of this kind. 

Again, examples frequently occur in which the whitish basal 
portion of the feathers of the rust-coloured spot on the throat is so 
large that these feathers come to have merely rufous tips, the 
white more or less predominating. I possess a very prettily- 
marked male with an uncommonly large spot on the throat ; 
the latter, however, is orange-brown only in the middle, with a 
broad white border all round. In this specimen, too, the white 
edge of the black breast-band is very broad, and extends on both 
sides upwards along the upper breast. This bird is one of uncom- 
mon beauty. I possessed also two other less beautiful birds of this 
kind in which the spot on the upper breast was very small, and, in 
the case of one example, has but little rust colour. Both of these 
birds I had the honour of presenting to my friend Eugene von 
Homeyer, for the completion of his very extensive series of 
Bluethroats. 

In very old females of this species, almost the entire marking 
of the normally-coloured male is in rare cases repeated in the 
spring, but the colour is fainter, and seems dusted over with a fine 
white. In the few examples of this kind which I had the oppor- 
tunity of examining, the lower brown band on the upper breast was 
invariably absent. In younger females the throat is shot with 
lightish blue ; the spot on the neck of a whity rust {weisslich 
rostfarben) colour and terminated by abroad black band, shot with 
blue on the upper breast, and extending upwards along both sides 
of the neck. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 269 

Young autumn birds have not even a tinge of rust colour, 
either on the throat or fore-neck ; but these parts are pure white, 
with the exception of a more or less compact deep black baud on 
the upper breast, which is prolonged upwards along both sides of 
the neck. It is rare to meet with old males in autumn plumage in 
which the spot on the neck is entirely rust colour, its upper half 
being almost always of whitish coloration. 

A mere superficial inspection of examples of the last kind of 
aberration from the normal spring plumage of the male discussed 
above, might easily lead one to suppose that such birds were 
hybrids of the present and following species. The possibility of 
such an intermixture is however excluded by the mere fact that the 
one species breeds within the area of the Arctic Circle, or in 
northern mountain chains, at heights possessed of an arctic climate, 
while the other does not extend beyond the North Sea and Baltic, 
and remains permanently on the plains. 

Here in Heligoland, too, the time of the spring miga-ation of the 
two species very clearly demonstrates the wide distance, comprising 
many degrees of latitude, which separates their homes. The more 
southern breeding stations of the white-spotted species become 
haljitable at a very early period of the year, and accordingly the few 
individuals which ever reach this island arrive as early as the end 
of ilarch, or during the first days of April ; at that time winter 
still completely reigns in the nesting area of the northern species, 
and does not yield to milder weather until three or four weeks 
later ; accordingly, the spring migration of this latter species does 
not take place until May. 



88. — White-spotted Bluethroat [Weiss-sterniges 
Blaukehlchen]. 

SYLVIA LEUCOCYANA, Brehm.^ 

Heligolandish : Wit Blii-Heininel-Fiiik= Uliite-Blue Skybird. 

Sylvia suecica. Naiiiiiann, ii. 414. S. Icuocymia, xiii. 373, and 

Blasius, Nachtriige, 59. 
White-spotted Bluethroat. Dre.s.ser, ii. 311. 
Bee-fin gorge bleue. Teiiiniinck, Manuel, i. 216. 

This elegant bird, with the pure white satiny throat-spot on a 
field of blue, is one of the rarest of occurrences in Heligoland. 
With one sole exception, it has occurred here only at intervals 

' Cyanecvla teucocyana (Brehm). 



270 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of from five to ten years, and in solitary instances, so that during 
the last fifty years only eight, or at most ten, of these birds have 
been shot on the island. The one very remarkable exception 
occurred in the spring of 1S77, in which, on the 5th of April, from 
ten to twelve of these birds were observed here ; again several on 
the 6th, and several others on the 9th ; all the birds were handsome 
males, and nearly all were captured. Since that time I have only 
once again obtained this species here, viz., on the I7th of May 
1879 ; and have only once shot a female bird, whose early ap- 
pearance might allow one to conclude with safety as to its belonging 
to the white-spotted form. 

All the earlier birds, or those met with on the last occasion of 
the occurrence of the species, were males, for the most i3art fine 
old birds, with a large white spot on the upper breast. In some 
few individuals, however, this spot was so small that it was almost 
— indeed, in one example, completely — hidden bj' the blue ; but 
even in this instance, on raising the feathers, a small shiny white 
spot of the size of a No. 4 shot became visible. Judging from the 
rest of their coloration and markings, however, all these birds 
were very old examples. 

In almost all works on this subject, central and western Europe 
as far south as Portugal is given as the breeding area of this Blue- 
throat, Germany and Holland being noted as the parts in which it is 
met with in greatest numbers. Biichner ( Vogel des St. Petersburger 
Goiivernements, 1886), on the other hand, not only mentions the 
neighbourhood of St. Petersburg as an additional nesting station 
for this bird, but also states that it is caught in ' very large numbers ' 
in that locality at the end of April and beginning of May. It is, 
however, hardly probable that the nesting stations of this bird 
extend beyond the northern limit of the St. Petersburg district, 
and hence arises the question : Whither do the birds which occur 
there so numerously during the spring migration direct their 
course ? There is little doubt that they do so towards the east, in 
which chrection the numerous water-courses, originating in the 
western slopes of the Ural, provide in abundance localities suitable 
as nesting stations. Hence we may assume that the breeding 
range of this Bluethroat includes the whole of central and southern 
Europe, from Avestern Portugal to the Ural Mountains. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 271 



89. — Wolf's Bluethroat [Wolf's Blaukehlchex]. 
SYLVIA WOLFII, Brehm.i 

• Helijiolandish : All-Heel blii Bluhemmel lnnk = Entirely bine Skybird 
Sylvia woljii. Nanniann, xiii. 377, aud Blasius, Nachtrdge, 59. 

Cyanecula wolfii. Dresser, ii. 311. 

On the 30th of March 1848, there Avas shot on Sandy Island a 
Bkiethroat liaving its upper breast of a unifonn bkie, and showing 
even on raising the feathers no trace of white beneath, the basal 
portions of all the blue feathers being of a uniform grey. The bird 
was a fine old male, and this is the only instance of my having 
obtained one. In three other instances I have obtained in the 
spring males with the upper breast of an apparently uniform blue, 
but in all these a small round brilliant white spot either became 
visible at once after a slight displacement of the feathers, or could 
be seen gleaming more or less distinctly through the blue covering 
feathers, even when these were left undisturbed. 

I have followed Naumann in citing this uniformly blue form 
of Bluethroat as a separate species, inasmuch as Heligoland does 
not supply sufficient data towards settling the question as to 
whether it is to be considered an independent species or not. The 
fact that the present form occupies similar areas to that of the 
white spotted one, and inter-breeds with the latter, can hardly 
justify us in disputing its claim to be regarded as an independent 
species ; on the other hand the circumstance that, despite such 
crossing, both forms maintain their purity, should rather be accepted 
as evidence in favour of their independence. 

However, only such individuals in which the basal portions of 
all the blue feathers are of a uniform gi'ey, ought to be regarded as 
Sylvia v-olfii, while the least indication of a small white spot on 
the upper breast should be considered as the mark of a mongrel, 
in the same way as in the case of the Carrion and Hooded Crows. 

According to all that has hitherto been observed and reported in 
respect to this species, Germany is to be regarded as its principal 
breeding area; it is there that uniformly blue-marked old males 
have been met with in greatest frequency during the breeding 
season. It is however probable that its nesting stations extend 
considerably farther, both west and east, for Howard Saunders 
obtamed in Spain a pair of apparently blue individuals, wkich, how- 
ever, on raising the feathers of the upper breast, displayed a small 
white spot, and were accordingly mongrels. Still, their occurrence 
' Cyanecula ivoljii (Brehm). 



272 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

here necessarily proves that both the pure forms must have also 
been in residence in the district. Blichuer further rejiorts that 
among the birds caught in the immediate neighbourhood of St. 
Petersburg, males with a uniformly blue Ijreast were not infre- 
quently met with ; accordingly the breeding stations of Wolfs Blue- 
throat extend from the most western to the most eastern parts of 
Europe. 

90.— Redbreast [Kothkelchen]. 
SYLVIA RUBECQLA, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Road-bresched = iJciJircasf. 

Sylvia rubccula. Niuiiuann, ii. 397. 

Redbreast. Dresser, ii. 329. 

Bee-fin rouge-gorge. Teinminek, Manuel, i. 215, iii. 142. 

This little bird, with its large black trustful eyes, and yet at the 
same time extraordinarily pugnacious disposition, visits Heligoland 
in very large numbers, both in spring and autumn : often every 
nook and corner of the island teems with them. In spring, when 
engaged in the garden digging up one's flower-beds and the like, 
the little feUow is excellent company, hopping about on the ground 
around one, picking up a worm or insect here and there, and not 
in the least disturbed by being looked at. In fact, the bird 
seems not to heed anything that goes on around it, but confines its 
attention entirely to the ground, differing in this respect widely 
from the equally confiding but at the same time ever watchful 
Blucthroat. 

This bird is amongst the small number of songsters which, by 
means of their modest little tune, strive to beautify the spring on 
this inhospitable rock, devoid in other respects of so many of the 
usual charms of that season. The first individuals begin to arrive 
very early in the spring, and during their autumn migration many 
of them may bo seen even late in November, passing thr<_iugh in the 
company of the last Blackbird stragglers ; now and again, indeed, 
one will make an attempt at wintering here. In such a case, 
especially if there be much snow, it becomes a constant guest in the 
poultry-yard, where it heartily enjoys the bread-crumbs intended 
for the fowls, and soon comes to regard itself so much at home 
there, that it even manages to keep those bold but stupid fellows, 
the sparrows, at a respectable distance from the food-bowl. 

The Redbreast breeds throughout the whole of Europe, from the 
Atlantic coasts of Portugal and the Hebrides to the Ural. Wolley 
met with it in Lapland, as far as 68° N. latitude. 

' L'rilhaciiti riihecula (Linn.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 273 

91. — Redstart [Gartenruthlixg]. 
SYLVIA PHCENICURUS, Latham.i 

Heligolandish : Sniock-heiked. This is the loc;iI name applied to the 
male bird ; females and young birds of this species and the Black 
Kedstiirt are known under the name of Eo-ad statjed = iJe(i-toz7. 

Sylvia phKnicurus. Naumann, iii. 510. 

Hedstart. Dresser, ii. 277. 

Bee-fin demurailhs. Temminck, Manuel, i. 220, iii. 146. 

The Redstart visits Heligoland almost always in very large 
numbers, sometimes in immense swarms, both during its homeward 
journey in spring and during its return passage in autumn. Inas- 
much, however, as tine warm weather is an indispensable condition 
for its journey, it rarely makes its appearance before the middle of 
April or the beginning of May, and leaves again as early as the last 
week in August, and throughout the whole of September. During 
the latter month it is met with in greatest abimdance ; so that if 
the days be fine and warm, with light south-easterly and southerly 
winds, all the gardens, and especially the potato-tields, teem with 
countless thousands of these birds. 

This Redstart breeds throughout the whole of Europe, with the 
exception of Spain and Portugal ; it breeds also very abundantlj- 
through the whole of Scandinavia, where it may be met with as 
far as 70° N. latitude, and even beyond. 

It is impossible to state with certainty how far eastwards the 
nesting stations of this species extend in Asia. Seebohm (Siberia 
in Asia) shot a young bird on the Jenesei, and Sewertzoft' notes it 
as an apparently common bird in Turkestan. 

92. — Ehrenberg's Redstart [Weissfluglicher Eothling]. 
SYLVIA MESOLEUCA, Ehrenberg.2 

Ehrenberg's Redstart. Ruticilla mesoleuca. Dresser, ii. 285. 

My collection possesses a specimen of this rare bird, which was 
caught here on the 12th of June 1864. It is an old male, and in its 
general markings resembles an intensely-coloured old male of 
S. 2^}t.cmicurus, with the exception that the wing-markings are 
diflerent, the large primaries having fine white edges. This white 
coloration broadens out considerably on the secondaries, commenc- 
intr at the base, and increases in width with each successive feather, 
so that in the last of the posterior flight-feathers it covers the whole 

' Ruticilla phcenicurus {Linn.). '' Buiicilla me-sokuca [Ehren.). 

•S 



274 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of the broad outer- web, and thus leads to the formation of a large, 
pure white spot. The two penultimate flight-feathers acquire a 
peculiar marking, through the sudden projection of the blackish- 
brown colour in the middle of each of these feathers into the white 
portion of the outer-web, forming dark spots similar to those met 
with in the Buntings, and especially well defined in E. lapponica, 
schcenicliis, rustica, and ijusilla. 

The bird caught here completely agrees with the description 
given by Dresser and Blandford {Ibis, 1874, p. 343) of the examples 
in the Berlin Museum, which were collected by Hemprich and 
Ehrenberg in Syria and Arabia. In size it resembles R. 2>hceniciiriis, 
but the wings of my example are -25 in. (6 mm.), and the tail 
•28 in. (7 mm.), longer than in an old male of the latter species. 

The following arc the measurements of my example : Total 
length, 5'31 ins. (135 mm.) ; length of wing, 319 ins. (81 mm.) ; 
length of tail, 2-36 ins. (60 mm.) ; length of tail uncovered by wing, 
1-15 in. (29 'Him.) ; the beak measures "43 in. (11 mm.), and the 
tarsus, 86 in. (22 onm.). 

As regards the nesting stations of this species, nothing further 
is known than has been reported by C. G. Danford in a very inter- 
esting article in the Ibis for 1877, p. 262. During his travels in 
Asia Minor, in the winter of 1875 and the spring of 1876, he 
discovered, with a great deal of trouble, the hitherto unknown 
nests and eggs of tliis species, which at that time was itself but 
little known. 

The bird above mentioned as shot in Heligoland appears to be 
the only example of this species hitherto observed m Europe. A 
few years ago, Aeuckens wounded a second example, but did not 
obtain it. Peculiar and interesting in regard to migration is the 
fact that, on the same day as S. mesoleuca, there was also shot an 
example of Sylvia (Acrocfphala) agrlcola, which is likewise pre- 
served in my collection. 

93. — Black Redstart [Hausrothling]. 
SYLVIA TITHYS, Latham.i 

Heligoland Lsh : Swart smok-heiked = jBfac/; Redstart 

Sylvia tithys. Naumann, iii. 525. 

Blaclc Bedstart. Dresser, ii. 293. 

Bee-fin rougc-qweue. Temminck, Manuel, i. 21S, iii. 145. 

Although the Black Redstart visits Heligoland regularly during 
the two migration periods of the year, only solitary birds, or a small 

' liuticilla li/i^s {Hcop.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 275 

number of examples, are ever met with in the course of a day ; 
nevertheless the bird, by reason of its peculiarly elegant plumage, 
is well known to every shooter here. Its migration commences in 
the spring as early as March, and extends to a correspondingly 
aflvanced period in the autumn, and even into winter, birds of this 
species having, in fact, been met with by no means rarely in the 
middle of December. Nor is its migration, like that of its near 
relative, the Common Redstart, at all dependent on tine and warm 
weather ; but, on the contrary, takes place at times and under con- 
ditions of weather when no other Sylvia would dream of under- 
taking a journey. 

This bird occurs as a breeding species from western I'ortugal 
as far as the Volga, but becomes umch less numerous from eastern 
(lermany eastwards. It also nests, but more locally, in north 
Africa, Palestine, and eastwards as far as Persia. 



94.— Moussier's Redstart [Moussiers PiOtulixg]. 
JSYLYIA MOUSSIERI, Olph-GalUard.i 

Moxissier's Redstart. Dresser, ii. 321. 

RiUicilla Moussia-i. Howard L. Irby, Ornithology of Straits 
of Gibraltar, p. 82. 

This very interesting African Redstart has occurred once in 
the summer of 1842 ; it Avas shot by Oelrich Aeuckens, and sold 
by him to a young law-student named Jochmus, from Luneburg, 
who used to come here annually for sea-bathing. I had at that 
time scarcely laid the first foundations of my collection, and had no 
idea of what value this example was 10 Heligoland. Afterwards, I 
made repeated and urgent efforts to obtain it back, but unfor- 
tunately without result. At last I gave it up as a bad job, as I was 
told that the bird had gone to ruin. It was a pretty male in rather 
worn plumage ; its like has never been seen here again, nor is it 
probable that a second will ever reach this island ; for, with two or 
three exceptions, no other south and west European or north-west 
African species have ever been seen here. 

The home of this species appears not to extend beyond north- 
west Africa. 

' Ruticilla moussieri (Olph-Gal.). 



27G THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

95. — Orphean Warbler [Sangerguasmucke]. 
SYLVIA ORPHEA, Temminck. 

Sylvia orphca. Nauraann, ii. 445. 

Orphean Warbler. Dresser, ii. 411. 

Bee-fin orphee. Temminck, Manuel, i. 198, iii. 127. 

Reymers informed me that he had twice — now many years ago — 
obtained this songster on this island. I have met with it only on 
one occasion, and that on the 8th of Julj^ 1876. This is the more 
surprising, as this bird, apart from its more southern nesting 
stations, is quite a common breeding species in Greece, and one or 
more examples of other south-eastern species turn up here almost 
regularly every year during the summer months. In England 
this songster has been shot several times ; and it is even reported 
that its nest, with ecra's, has been found there on two occasions. 

The breeding range of this Warbler extends from the extreme 
west of southern Europe, includes north-west Africa, and reaches 
Turkestan and Persia. 



96, — White throat [Doi;xGKASMiJcKE]. 
SYLVIA CINEREA, Brisson. [Bechst.]. 

Heligolandish : Eoad-riigged IJ nger = Eed-haclced Warbler. 

Sylvia cinerea. Naumann, ii. 464. 

Whitethroat. Dresser, ii. 377. 

Bee-fin grisettc. Temminck, Manuel, i. 207, iii. 133. 

This species is one of the commonest birds of this island. 
Large numbers are seen hopping about in all the gardens from 
the time when the weather begins to get warm — about the middle 
of April to the end of May ; and during its autumn migration, 
from the end of August and throughout September, the potato- 
fields often literally teem with these birds. 

The Whitethroat breeds in large numbers from Portugal to 
Turkestan ; in the north its breeding range extends beyond central 
Scandinavia as far as Archangel. 

On this island, where birds seldom make their song heard, it is 
always a great enjoyment to listen to the soft, continuous piping 
and chatter of this bird in the sunny morning hours ; it sounds to 
one as though the birds were rehearsing the introductory lessons 
for the complete melody which is to resound later on in their nest- 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 277 

ing homes. As I was one line May morning listening to one of these 
songsters in my garden, a Willow Warbler, some thirty paces behind 
me, also started its little tune. Greatly to my astonishment, the 
^Vhitethroat at once introduced it in somewhat softer tones in its 
own fantasias, and repeated it regularly during the shorter or longer 
pauses occurring between the recitals of the Willow Warbler. One 
can hardly expect a Heligoland ornithologist to be versed in all the 
secrets and peculiarities of bird nuisic, and so I cannot say whether 
this pleasing intermezzo is a habitual feature of this bird's vocal 
performances, or whether it was on this occasion a little freak 
prompted by the invigorating effects of travel ; all I can say is that 
it sounded exceedingly sweet. 



97. — Lesser Whitethroat [Zaungrasmijcke]. 
SYLVIA CURRUCA, Brisson. [Linn.]. 

Heligolandish : Liitj UDger = Li(t/e Warbler. 

Sylvia curruca. Naumann, ii. 451. 

Lesser Whitethroat. Dresser, ii. 3S3. 

Bee-fin babillard. Temminck, Manuel, i. 209, iii. 134. 

Only solitary examples of this pretty little songster are met with 
on this island ; it is the earliest arrival among its nearer relatives 
during the spring migration, almost always making its appearance 
as early as the first days of April, even if the weather is still raw, 
and completes its migi'ation by the middle of May. In the autumn, 
when it occurs still more sparmgly, it may be seen from the latter 
half of September till towards the end of October, and at times also 
somewhat later. 

The breeding area of this bird extends frem France into eastern 
Asia (Dailria), while its northern range reaches to central Scan- 
dinavia. Solitary instances of its nesting in Spain are recorded, 
but in Portugal it appears no longer to be met with as breeding 
species. 

98. — Garden Warbler [Gaktexgrasmlcke]. 
SYLVIA HORTENSIS, Gmelin. [Bechst.]. 

Sylvia hortensis. Naumann, ii. 478. 

Garden Wai'hler. Dresser, ii. 429. 

Bee-fin fauvette. Temminck, Manuel, i. 206, iii. 132. 

This songster also is quite a conuiion bird on this island. On 
warm days at the end of April and throughout May, as well as at 



•278 THE BIRDS OF HELICxOLAND 

the end of August and during September, it is met witli abundantly 
in the high bushes of gardens, and during the autumn migration in 
the potato-fields. Its numbers, however, never come up to those of 
the Whitethroat. 

This bird breeds from Portugal to the Ural chain, and in Scan- 
dinavia advances beyond the Arctic circle. 



99. — Blackcap [Monchgeasmucke]. 
SYLVIA ATRICAPILLA, Brisson. [Linn.]. 

Heligolandish : Swart-hoaded V ngev = Blachheaded Warbler. 
Sylvia atricapUla, Nauinann, ii. 421. 
Blackcap. Dresser, ii. 421. 

Bee-fin a Ute noire. Temminck, Manuel, i. 201, iii. 131. 

This species visits Heligoland in small numbers only, and ma}- Ije 
met with almost daily, in tolerably fine weather, from the first weeks 
of April until the middle of May, but only solitary individuals arc 
seen ; the same applies throughout October and November. I have 
even seen the birds as late as on the 5th and 18th December. 
During both migration periods it frequents almost exclusively the 
upper twigs of thorn- and eldor-bushes in gardens from fifteen to 
eighteen feet high ; in the autumn the bird feeds very voraciously 
on the ripe elderberries. 

Only on one occasion have I heard the beautiful song of this bird. 
It was early in the morning, and the songster was hidden, seciu'c 
from all intrusion, in a high and thick thorn-hedge. I was thus 
enabled to listen with rapture to its song, the first loud flute-like 
notes of which really made me believe it proceeded from a Nightin- 
gale. I confess with regret that when this song ceased the spring 
of Heligoland appeared to me poorer than ever before. 

The Blackcap nests abundantly from Portugal, includes in its 
range the Azores and Canary Islands, aiid extends through the 
whole of Europe as far as the Ural ; but its northern range hardly 
reaches beyond central Scandinavia. 



100. — Sardinian Warbler [SchwarzkOpfige Gkasmucke]. 

SYLVIA MELANOCEPHALA, Gmelin. 

Sardinian Warbler. Dresser, ii. 401. 

Bcc-fin mclanoccjihala. Temiuinck, Manuel, 1. 203, iii. 132. 

Reymers is my only authority for including this species in the 
avifauna of Heligoland, he having obtained one many years ago. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 279 

This same specimen passed into the hands of W. Brandt, of Ham- 
burg. 

The home of this songster extends over all the countries of 
southern Europe bordering the Mediterranean, as well as north 
Africa. 

101. — Barred Warbler [Spekberguasmucke]. 

SYLVIA NISORIA, Bechstein. 

Heligolandish : KAt-\Jng&c=Cat-warhlcr. 
Sylvia nisoria. Naumann, ii. 430. 
Barred Warbler. Dresser, ii. 435. 
Bee-fin raye. Temminck, Mamul, i. 200, iii. 12S. 

This is by far the rarest of the Warblers belonging to Germany 
which are met with here. The bird is never seen before the middle 
of May, and then only on warm, calm days, and in soUtary instances ; 
nor can it be by any means reckoned as a regular annual summer 
visitant. 

The breeding range of this species appears to extend only from 
western Germany to Turkestan ; on the north it ranges to Denmark 
and southern Sweden. In England this bird has not been met with 
up to this date. 

102. — Dartford Warbler [Provence-Grasmucke]. 
SYLVIA PROVINCIALIS, Gmelin.i 

Sylvia provincialis. Keyserling and Blasius, Wirhelthicre 

Europas, Ivi. and 186. 
Dartford Warbler. Dresser, ii. 441. 
Bee-fin pitchoti.. Temminck, Manuel, i. 211, iii. 137. 

Two instances only of the occurrence of this peculiar Ijird in 
Heligoland are on record, it having on one occasion been obtained 
by Reymei's, and on the other observed by myself, on May 31st 
1851, hopping about in the thorn-hedge of a neighbouring garden 
at only a few paces distance. Unfortunately, there being other 
gardens behind the hedge in question in which people were occupied 
at the time, I was unable to shoot the bird. It was a male ; 
Reymers' bird, also, according to the description, was a beautiful 
example of the same sex. This species is essentially a western one ; 
its nesting stations extending from Portugal to eastern France. It 
also breeds in England and western Africa. 

' Melizophilus undalus (Bodd.). 



280 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

It should further be mentioned that Claus Aeuckens, on the 
20th of April 1873, saw a ' black-headed Wai-bler, in which neck and 
breast were of the same dark coloration as the back.' What 
species this may have been it is impossible to say. 

103. — Wood Warbler [Waldlaubvogel]. 

SYLVIA SIBILATRIX, Bechstein.i 
Heligolandisli : Giihl Fliegenbitter= Tellow Wren. 

Sylvia sibilatrix. Naumann, iii. 556. 

Wood Wren. Dresser, ii. 479. 

Bee-fin siffleur. Temminck, Manuel, i. 223, iii. 149. 

This bird occupies a prominent position among the Warblers, a 
group of song-birds the members of which are distinguished by 
their retired behaviour, and the modest, yet at the same time by no 
means unpleasing, coloration of their plumage. 

It is one of the most charming of our tiny songsters, chiefly 
by reason of the sharp contrast between the coloration of its upper 
and lower parts. The former portions are of a dark greyish yellow, 
while the large eye-streak, the upper breast, and the sides of the 
breast are of a pure and soft lemon-yellow colour. 

It visits Heligoland only in very isolated instances, such 
few individuals as are met with being seen for the most part 
on warm May days. During its autumn migration — from the 
middle of July to the middle of August — the bird is much rarer. 

This bird is a rare breeding species in Spain and Portugal ; its 
nesting stations extend more numerously from France and England 
through central and southern Europe, to the Ural ; in the north, 
its breeding range extends to Denmark and lower Sweden. 

104. — Bonelli's Warbler [Bonelli's Laubvogel]. 

SYLVIA BONELLI, Vieillot.^ 

Heligolanclisb : Grii-hoaded Fliegenbitter = Grc2/-/tcarfed Wren. 
Sylvia montana. Naumann, xiii. 417. 
Bonelli's Warbler. Dresser, ii. 503. 
Bec-fi,n Natterer. Temminck, Manuel, i. 227, iii. 154. 

Up to the present I have only twice obtained this southern 
species in Heligoland ; in the first instance, an only moderately 
handsome male, on the 8th October 1861, and subsequently, on the 
9th of October 1874, an extremely beautiful male in perfectly fresh 

' Phylloscopus sibilatrix CQaahst.). ^ Pkylloscopu^ boncUii (YiciW.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 281 

plumage, with the upper breast and sides of the breast of a brilliant 
pure silky white ; this pure white coloration renders the bird 
at once distinguishable from all its relatives oven at some distance. 
Bonelli's Warbler breeds in the mountainous regions of southern 
Europe, Asia Minor, and Palestine, its range extending on the north 
as far as south Germany. Hence it seems difficult to explain how 
the two examples in question could have got to Heligoland during 
the autumn migration ; from their occurrence in October one would, 
according to the general plien(3mena of migration, conclude that 
their home was in the East. 



105. — Willow Wai'bler [Fitislaubvogel]. 

SYLVIA TROCHILUS, Liun.i 

Heligolandish : Liitj riief;enbitter = >S'//(aH Wren. 

Sylvia trochilus. Naumann, iii. 568. 

Willoro Wren. Dresser, ii. 491. 

Bec-fia Pouillot. Temiiiinclc, Mainiel, i. 224, iii. 152. 

This little bird, which breeds throughout the whole of Europe 
up to the extreme North, also visits Heligoland in abundance 
during both periods of migration, and is, in fact, the most 
numerous of all the Warblers which visit the island. Its 
principal times of migration are May and September, but on warm 
spring days it may arrive even earlier. Similarly, fine warm 
weather, with light south-easterly winds, may convey the bird to 
Heligoland as early as August, fixirly large numbers being met with 
under these conditions in the potato-fields. 

The breeding zone of this bird has probably a wider latitudinal 
range than that of any other European species, extending from north 
Africa up to the extreme northern point — the North Cape — of 
Scandinavia — from 34° to 71° N. lat.. The winter quarters of the 
species are distributed over the whole of Africa down to its most 
southern provinces. From what we know of the facts of migration, 
we cannot assume that the millions of individuals, the breedinsj 
homes of which are distributed through Europe from the North Cape 
to the Mediterranean, pour into Africa in one vast chaotic horde, 
their movements and the range of their migrations being the results 
of mere accident; but that in this respect also a fixed order as to time 
and space prevails, in accordance with which, species whose breed- 
ing homes are in the extreme south likewise have their winter 

' Phylloscopus Iroehilun (Linn.). 



282 THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

quarters further south, while those which breed in higli northern 
latitudes do not extend their winter stations beyond northern 
Africa. 

Now, the breeding areas of species nesting farther south become 
habitable a whole month sooner than those of species nesting in the 
far North ; accordingly, the former start sooner for their breeding 
homes, than the latter do for theirs. Hence the remarkable fact 
results, that the birds which have started from four to six weeks 
earlier from their winter quarters in the far south Hy past and 
beyond those which at that time are still wintering in north Afi-ica, 
without however the latter being thereby induced to commence 
their spring migration. They, in fact, quietly remain until their 
homes in the raw North have become fit to receive them. There 
still remains, however, the question — What is it that announces to 
the one set of birds that the time for commencing its migratory 
journey has approached, and to the other that it has still ample 
time for resting in its winter abode ? 

The west-to-east range of the breeding area of this species 
extends from Portugal to the Jenesei. 



106. — Chiffchaff [VVeidenlaubvogel]. 

SYLVIA RUFA, Bechstein.i 

Heligolandish : Liitj swart-futted Fliegenbitter = Xii'H?c Block-footed Wren. 

Sylvia ruf a. Naumann, i. 58 1. 

Cloiffchaff. Dresser, ii. 485. 

Bee-fin viloce. Temminck, Manuel, i. 225, iii. 154. 

This bird also visits Heligoland in abundance, if not quite so 
numerously as the preceding Sjoecies. In spring it arrives sooner, 
and in autumn remains later, than any other Warbler, and it seems 
not at all to be afraid of rough weather. Its migration commences 
as early as the end of March, and in autumn lasts as late as 
November ; indeed, in 1S79, one of these birds was seen on the 
shore among the boats, during the first days of December, engaged 
in the pursuit of aquatic flies which were disporting themselves in 
the noon-day sun. 

In this species, as in the preceding, the young, more intensely 
yellow-coloured birds of the year initiate the autumn migration. 

The nesting stations of this species extend through Europe from 
Portugal to the Ural, and in Scandinavia to the latitude of 05° N. 

' Phylloscojms mfus (Bechst.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 283 

107. — Siberian Chiff chaff [Sibirischer Laubvogel]. 

SYLVIA TRI8TIS, Blyth.' 

Siberian Cliiffchaff. Seehohm, Siberia in Europe, p. 1 16 ; Siberia in 

Asia, pp. 103, 152, 173. 
Phylloscopiis tristis. Dresser, ii. 477. 

Only once, in October 1846, have I obtained a young bird of 
this species in its first autumn phiruage; in this example the 
characteristic whitish rust-coloured markings of the neck, upper 
breast, and sides were very strongly defined. In this dress the 
species is very easily recognised, even at some distance ; older, less 
intensely coloured examples, on the other hand, it would not be so 
easy, in the open air, to distinguish from somewhat grey specimens 
of the ChifFchaff, if the birds did not at once make their presence 
known, even at a fair distance, by their loud and striking call- 
note. The latter has not the least resemblance to that of any 
other Warbler, but sounds remarkabl}' like the anxious calls of a 
young chick that has strayed from the hen. The sound is 
pi-ak — pi-ak — pi-ak (pee-ak — pee-ak — pee-ak), special stress being 
laid on the first syllable, and is repeated invariably three or four 
times ; tlien follows a pause, lasting from half a minute to several 
minutes, and sometimes, when the bird thinks it is being watched, 
even ten minutes. 

Unfortunately, however, this bird, like many of its relatives, is 
extremely sharp in detecting any attention paid to it ; and manages, 
by hopping away through the bushes, to withdraw from all observa- 
tion with such deftness, that neither I nor Aeuckens have ever suc- 
ceeded in killing one of the six or eight examples which have been 
met with here. All these had a special preference for a row, fifty feet 
long, of about twenty thorn-bushes in my garden. These bushes 
are about twenty feet high, and their crowns form a compact 
meshwork of twigs. On the last occasion the birds were seen there, 
Aeuckens stood on the outside, and myself on the inside, of these 
bushes, at a distance of about thirty paces, and although from the 
call-notes of the birds and from the frequent slight movements of 
the outei'most and thinnest branches, we could perceive that they 
were slowly making then- w^ay from one end of the bushes to the 
other, we were unable, in spite of the utmost watchfulness, to hit on 
a favourable moment for firmg; as in all similar cases, a few 
minutes after, we could hear the well-knowTi pi-ak — pi-ak — pi-ak 
resounding from a neighbouring garden. 

' Phylloscopiui tristis, Blyth. 



284 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

In general appearance, this and the preceding species closely 
resemble one another ; on a close examination, however, it is im- 
possible to confound the two species — for in the Siberian Chiffchatf, 
the greyish-brown upper parts have scarcely a touch of the fresh 
ohve colour peculiar to the common Chift'chaff, while the lower 
parts show not even the least trace of the vivid light yellow colour 
of the latter species. The neck, upper breast, and the sides of the 
breast are of a dull light rust colour, almost isabelline — whitish rust- 
gi-ey in the faded sunnner plumage — and only the under tail-coverts 
display the pretty yellow coloration characteristic of the Warblers. 

The first authenticated observations on the nest and eggs of this 
species were made b}' Seebohm during his interesting and success- 
ful expedition to the Lower Jenesei (v. Siberia in J..sia, pp. 152 and 
173). One of the eggs, which was taken in that district on the 15th 
of July 1877, in latitude 70i° N., and is in my possession, resembles 
in its fine dark dotted markings the eggs of St/lvia rufa, but is 
somewhat larger than the average measurements of those of the 
latter species, though the bird itself is usually of smaller size. 
The egg in question is '07 in. (17 mm.) long, -51 in. (13 mvi.) 
broad ; accordingly, of less roundish form than the eggs of riifa and 
trochilus. It is pure white, and the reddish-black dots are sparingly 
scattered over the whole surface, though they are disposed some- 
what more densely in a kind of wreath or corona at the thick end 
of the egg. 

Seebohm and Harvie-Brown met with this bird at the beginning 
of July 1875 on the Lower Petchora; one of Dybowsky's skins, 
which is in my possession, is dated Lake Baikal, June 18th ; 
therefore we may probably assume that this species breeds through- 
out the whole of northern Asia. 



108. — Dusky Tree Warbler [Brauner Laubvogel]. 
SYLVIA (PHYLLOSCOPUS) FUSCATUS, Blyth.i 

Dushj Tree Warbler. Jerdon, Birds of India, ii. 191. 

My garden is divided from that of my neighbour by a high 
wooden paling, and it gives me much pleasure to watch through 
the chinks the doings of the birds there, who, utterly un- 
aware of being watched at a distance of a few feet, move about 
in their most natural and unconstrained manner. In this waj', 
on the 24th of October 1876, I espied close to me a small 
Warbler which, as regards the colour of its plumage, might have 
been described as the most advanced stage of a very vividly 

' Lusdniola fiiscata (Blyth). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 285 

coloured Reed Warbler in autumn plumage — the olivaceous rust 
colour (Oliven-Rostfarbe) on the sides of the breast, the flanks, and 
the under tail-covcrts was, however, much more intense and fresh 
than is found in the latter species, while its very prominent eye- 
streaks, as well as the scapular portions of the wings, were also of 
rust colour. On no part of its body did the bird display the least 
trace of the lemon-yellow colour so frequently repeated in this 
group, and which one even meets with on the scapular portions of 
the wings and the under tail-coverts of S. tristis — a sj^ecies whose 
general plumage is otherwise of a brownish grey. The bird here 
referred to is strikingly distinguished from the latter species, which 
I have observed here, if only momentarily, at least six times, by 
the much fresher coloration of its plumage, and also by a quite 
different call-note ; and I at once recognised it as the eastern Sylvia 
fxiscata. Unfortunately, in spite of all attempts, I found it im- 
possible to get a free shot at it, because on the other side of my 
neighbour's garden is a long thorn-hedge with houses behind it ; 
all 1 could do was to observe it for about ten minutes at distances 
of from two to twenty paces; after which, this much-coveted 
example Hew ofif into the hedge above referred to, and was not to 
be found again. This, by the way, was the same hedge in which 
my son Ludwig shot the examj^le of Sylvia nitida which now 
adorns my collection. 

According to Jerdon, this Warbler winters in India; and 
examples of it have been sent by Dybowsky and other observers 
from the Baikal region; its breeding range, therefore, probably 
extends from the middle Obi and upper Irtisch into eastern Asia. 

All the Warblers hitherto discussed are distinguished from 
those which follow by the absence of the banded markings on the 
wings, which are peculiar to the preponderating number of the 
Asiatic forms, these bands or bars being formed by the strikingly 
light-coloured tips of the largest and next largest wing-coverts. 
These species differ from one another in the tone of their common 
coloration to a sufficient extent to enable us to recognise them at 
once with ease ; another very good mark of distinction is furnished, 
however, by the measurements of the great flight-feathers, which 
substantially are as follows : — 

S. sibilatri.c. — The second flight-feather longer than the fifth; 
the third and fourth constitute the tip of the wing. 

(S'. bondlii. — Second flight-feather of the same length as the 
sixth ; the third, fourth, and the slightly shorter fifth, form the tip 
of the wing. 

S. trocliilus. — Second flight-feather shorter than the fifth; 
third and fourth forming tip of wing. 



286 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

S. rufa. — Second fliglit-featlier of same length as the eighth : 
the third, fourth, and fifth forming the tip of wing. 

S. tristis. — Second ttight-feather of the same length as the 
ninth ; the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth form the tip of the wing. 

S. fuscatiis. — Second flight-feather of the same length as the 
tenth; the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth form the tip of the 
wing. 

In addition to the Warblers here noted, I must mention another 
which attracted my attention by its peculiar call-note, and which 
I shot in my garden at the end of May 1875. It resembles a small 
and very pale example of S. trochilus, and has its lower parts quite 
white. In this bird the second flight-feather is shorter than the 
sixth, and the tip of the wing is constituted by the third, fourth, 
and fifth. Again, on the 9th July 1887, my attention was 
attracted by the call-note of another Warbler, which sounded some- 
thing like shiiup — shiilip — shiep. The bird on discovering that it 
was being watched became exti'emely shy, and slipped off stealthily 
through the thorn-bushes, its whereabouts being only discoverable 
by its frequently rcjieated call-notes ; nevertheless, my son, after 
the most persistent efforts, succeeded at last in shooting it. This 
example also resembles a small S. trochilus, and the measurements 
of its flight-feathers are similar to those of the example shot in May 
1875. Seebohm, from the last-named, described the bird as a 
separate species, under the name of Fhylloscopus gdtkei (Ibis, 1877, 
p. 92). From a note of Dresser, however (vol. ii. p. 497), it appears 
that he has cancelled this name, inasmuch as it had been 
previously described by Tristram from examples obtained by him 
on the coasts of the Mediterranean. 



109.— Yellow-browed Warbler [Gelbbrauigek Laubvogel]. 

SYLVIA SUPERCILIOSA, Gmelin.i 

Heligolandish : Striiked Fliegenbitter = Striped Warbler. 

Sylvia {Phyllopneuste) supcrciliosa. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtrdge, p. 74. 

Yellow-browed Warbler. Dresser, ii. 469. 

Boitelet modeste. Temminck, Manuel, iv. 618. 

This interesting little east Asiatic species was first described 
by Latham in 1783 from a Russian example obtained through 
Pennant. From that distant date, up to the autumn of 1836, hardly 
anything more was heard of the bird. In the latter j'ear one found 
its way into the bird-market of Vienna, and was kept alive for several 

' Phj/Uoscopun mperciliosus (Gmel.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 287 

mouths in the museum of that city. A second example was shot by 
Hancock, on the 26th of September 1838, on the English coast ; and, 
in October 1845, two of these birds were taken in the neighbourhood 
of Berlin. Another example was shot near Milan in 1847 ; and 
one was captured, on the 15th of September 1861, near Leyden. 
Another was shot in England on the 11th of October 1867; and, 
lastly, Eiichner (Vogel des Pc'lembun/er Gowvernements), mentions 
one which was caught in the neighbourhood of St. Petersburg on 
the 22nd of October 1878. 

These eight isolated and scattered instances Avould cover all our 
knowledge in regard to the occurrence of this species on European 
soil, if little Heligoland had not come forward with its own small 
mite. The record of this island, however, is a notable one, as com- 
pared with the isolated data from the Continent of Europe. From 
the time that I obtained the first example of the species, in October 
1 846, and was thus enabled to direct the attention of our gunners to 
it, up to the 9th of November 1886, more than eighty authenticated 
instances of its occurrence have been recorded, of which number 
thirty-two or thirty-three examples have been shot. Besides, those 
nuich valued young sporting friends of mine, the blowpipe- and 
catapult-shooters, to whom I owe many a bird of this and other rare 
Icinds, have reported to me at least twenty times that they had 
been engaged in a fruitless hunt after a ' StriUvcd Fliegenbitter ' = 
Striped Warbler. I have never, however, noted these statements, 
but only such undoubted cases in which the bird was seen, cither 
by Aeuckens, my son Ludwig, Lorenz Dijhn, or myself 

Of these specimens, stuffed by myself, six are before me at the 
present moment ; two — one of which was the first example, shot on 
tlie 4th of October 1846 — I gave to the late Colonel von Zittwitz, 
and these, with the rest of his rich collection, will at present probably 
be found either in the museum of the University of Leyden or in the 
town museum of Gorlitz. Two other specimens were given to my 
late friend Professor Blasius, and are preserved in the Museum of 
Brunswick ; another is in the Museum of Coburg ; one is in the 
possession of the Honourable Percy Fcilding of London; another 
stuffed specimen, dried after it had been somewhat damaged by 
shots, was given to Professor Alfred Newton ; two skins, unfortun- 
ately much damaged, 1 gave to Mr. Seebohm, who added thereto a 
third, which he shot himself in my garden on the 5th of October 
LS76; and, lastly, I presented a stuffed specimen to my friend, 
John Cordeaux, on the occasion of his recent visit. Besides I have 
given away several others, but cannot at the present moment 
I'emcmber where they went to ; four or five other examples were so 
much damaged by the shot, that there was nothing more to be done 



288 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

■vvith them. To these must, further, be added such examples as 
were stuffed by Heligoland stuffors in my time, and passed over 
into private collections, as well as such as went to Hamburg, mostly 
into the possession of Brandt, at the beginning of the thirties, 
through the agency of old Koopmann and Reymers ; among the 
latter was a bird which successfully evaded all pursuit in the 
course of the day, but in the evening was found asleep, during a 
lantern hunt after Chaffinches, and Idlled. 

The migration of this Warbler commences in Heligoland during 
the last ten days of September, and continues until the end of October; 
on several occasions the bird has been met with as late as the begin- 
ning of November. This bird, like all the Siberian species which 
visit Heligoland, is only extremely rarely met with in spring. How- 
ever safely we may look forward to meeting with it every autumn, 
if the weather is at all favourable, we may be equally certain that in 
the spring we shall look for it in vain. During a spell of more than 
fifty years I have only seen it twice at the latter season — once on 
the 25th of April, the second time on the 2.5th of May ; the first 
was a very beautiful inale, but, imfortunately, was so much damaged 
by the shot, that it could not be prepared for the cabinet. 

The conditions which favour the passage of this bird to Heligo- 
land are an east wind, particularly a light south-east, and warm 
sunny weather. After its arrival it frequents ^principally the few 
tree-like willow shrubs in the gardens between the houses of the 
Upper Plateau (Oberland). It appears to have a special preference 
for Sidic smithiania, for which reason I always cultivate this species 
in my garden. It is hardly ever seen on S. caprea or on elders, but 
likes high thorns and the greater maples (Acer ijseudo-'plataniis). 
In its manner of hopping through the branches of these tree-like 
bushes and garden-shrubs it exactly resembles the Chiftchaff and 
Willow Wren. In doing so, it does not, however, make use of its 
wings for jiropelling itself, as the two last-named species do inces- 
santly, even when they do not require their wings for the purpose 
of fluttering from one branch to another ; nor does this bird hop 
about in the unsteadj', and, to all appearances, aimless manner of 
the latter birds, but progresses calmly and gradually from the lo\\er 
branches to the top of the tree or bush. 

The bird only rarely gives utterance to a call-note ; generally it 
does so only when flying away. This call has the soiuid of a some- 
what long-drawn, softly-intoned 'hjiiph,' and somewhat apj^roaches in 
character the call-note of Anthus pratensis. Swinhoe has very 
aptly sought to reproduce this sound bj' the English word ' sweet.' 

In its whole bearing this bird has nothing by which it could 
remind us of the Golden-crested Wren, a bird which hops about in 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 289 

a restless, almost nervous, manner, and is incessantly uttering cries. 
Its plumage, moreover, is of firmer texture; and the structure of 
its nest, which is now known as well as its eggs, is similar to those 
of the other Warblers, and not at all like that of the Golden- 
crested Wren. It was probably its small size, combined with the 
litrht winir-markinss, which induced observers to include the first 
examples of this species amongst the Crested Wrens ; observation 
of the bird in nature in no way justifies such a position. I myself, 
accordingl}-, noted the first examples of this species obtained and 
observed here, which at that time were quite unknown to me, under 
the name Sylvia (Ficedida) in my Ornithological Journal: nor has 
any of the older shooters, nor of the younger blowpipe sportsmen 
of Heligoland, ever thought of applying to this bird any other name 
than that of ' Straked Fliegenbitter,' i.e. Striped Warbler. 

It is owing to the tendency exhibited by this bird for selecting 
as its habitat the small gardens between the houses, where a gun 
can only rarely be called into requisition, that of the individuals 
observed on the island such a comparatively small number is 
secured ; moreover, under such conditions, one is generally obliged 
to shoot at a very short distance, and hence it unfortunately too 
often happens that, though one may scarcely use half the usual 
charge, this interesting visitor is frequently so much damaged as 
to be quite useless for preserving. 

Apart from this, it is by no means easy to get a shot at the little 
stranger; for there are few birds which are so clever in covering 
themselves, as they hop through the bushes, with branches and 
foliage in sufficient quantity to render a successful shot imjjossible. 

The whole of the upper plumage of this species is of a beauti- 
fully fresh olive-greenish yellow (olivengelbgriln), the colour being- 
somewhat darker on the top of the head, and somewhat more yellow 
on the rump. The under parts are pure whitish sulphur-yellow 
(iveisslich schwefelgelb), the belly and under tail-coverts being 
nearly white. A very broad sharply-defined light sulphur-yelloAv 
eye-streak, extending to the nape, and two broad bands of the same 
colour across the wing, distinguish the bird from all its European 
congeners, with the exception of the species next to be described, 
which, in its turn, is principally distinguishable by the broad 
pure j'ellow marking of the rump. 

In the older males the markings of the head, wings, and upper 
breast are of a purer and lighter yellow, and there is a fairly distinct 
lighter streak on the centre of the crown of the head, extending 
from the base of the bill to the nape of the neck. In the less 
handsome specimens there is only a faint indication of this mark- 
ing, while females and young birds have not even a trace of it. In 

T 



290 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

individuals where this marking is most pronounced, the light eye- 
streak has, in addition, a fine black border above and below, by 
which the beauty of this already very conspicuous marking is 
considerably enhanced. 

The night-feathers and rectrices are edged by the same colour as 
that of the back. Besides the two characteristic bands, which are 
formed by the broad pale yellow markings of the tips of the lesser 
and greater wing-coverts, the thi'ee posterior flight-feathers have 
equally conspicuous broad whitish-yellow edges on their outer webs, 
while all the secondary and some of the primary quill feathers have 
pure white edges at the tips, which end in a point on the shaft. 

All these markings are less pronounced in females and young 
birds. 

The bill and feet are of a light horn colour, the former with a 
blackish tip, the latter with yellowish soles. 

The measurements of this si^ecies, as taken from many freshly- 
killed specunens, are as follows : — Total length, from 3'58 to 410 ins. 
(91 to 104 mm.); length of wing in repose, 192 to 2'24 ins. (49 to 
57 mm.); length of tail, 1-38 to 1-.50 in. (35 to 38 mm.); length of 
tail uncovered by wings, '59 to '71 in. (15 to 18 m«i.); length of 
beak, "27 to '32 in. (7 to 8 7nr)i.); average length of tarsus, '71 in. 
(18 mm.). The smaller measurements are not always confined to 
the females ; thus, one of the two examples which were met with in 
the spring was a male with exceptionally pure and beautiful mark- 
ings, and nevertheless almost the smallest of all the examples of 
this species ever obtained here. 

In the wings the second flight-feather is of the same length as 
the seventh ; the third, fourth, and fifth are of eqiuil length, and 
form the tip of the wing — in some cases the fifth is hardly jier- 
ceptibly shorter; the last posterior flight-feather is generally of 
equal length with the last, i.e. the tenth of the primaries. The tail 
as a rule appears slightly furcate, the central pair of feathers being 
usually a little shorter than the lateral pair. 

The bill in its whole conformation possesses the typical features 
of that organ in the Warbler family, and is very plainly distinguished 
from the long-pointed bill of the Crested Wrens. Measurements are 
of little further use for proving anything in this respect, since the 
deviations in objects of such small size are too insignificant to be of 
nmch value ; when, however, these parts of the two species are 
examined under a magnifier, the difl:erences become ajDparent in a 
most striking nnxnner. 

For a long time nothing definite was known as to the home of 
this species ; it was hardly suspected that it could extend beyond 
northern Siberia, of which fact there seems to be now no longer 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 291 

any doubt. Seebohm found the nest on the Jenesei, withm the 
limits of the Polar circle, and von Middendorft' met with it 
numerously during the autumn migration to the north of the sea of 
Ochotsk ; thus the breeding area of the species appears to extend 
from the Lower Jenesei into the most eastern parts of Asia. 

Sewertzoff, however, states that this Warbler breeds also in 
Turkestan, and there at heights of from seven to ten thousand feet ; 
and Brooks believes that he has discovered its eggs in the mountains 
of Kashmir, eight thousand feet above sea level — in both cases, 
accordingly, at elevations possessed of a summer climate rather 
similar to that of northern Asia. Nothing further has been re- 
ported as regards Sewertzoffs statement ; but in respect to that of 
Brooks, Seebohm says that the eggs collected by him in Kashmir 
are not those of S. supercUiosa, but belong to another hitherto 
unknown species. What species he is referring to does not appear 
from his notes; it may probably be S. hmnei, which certainly 
comes very close to S. supercUiosa, and which, in the absence of 
examples of both for close and exact comparison, might easily be 
taken for birds of the latter species in faded summer plumage. 

Unfortunately I have not an eggof <S'. supercUiosa at my disposal. 
One of the eggs collected by Brooks in Kashmir, which is in my 
possession, is "o.t in. (14 ontn.) long, •43 in. (11 mm.) broad, of a 
pure white ground colour, and sprinkled with fairly densely- 
disposed brownish red spots ; the colour of the markings is not so 
light as that of S. trochilus, nor so dark as that of S. rufa. Leaving 
size out of consideration, it seems to resemble most nearly a dark- 
spotted Titmouse's eg^. Seebohm, in regard to his eggs collected 
at the Jenesei, says that they resemble in a high degree those of 
S. hicmei. 

Sylvia humei is of the same size as S. supercUiosa, but deviates 
considerably from the latter in the coloration of the jDlumage. 
In the whole of its dress we nowhere meet with the pure and 
beautiful sulphur yellow which so markedly distinguishes that of 
the latter species. The eye-streak is dull olive yellow, and the 
lower of the alar bands is of the same colour, but often even 
only of a whitish olive grey (iveisslich olivengrau) ; in the upper 
band the olive grey colour is so dull that in some examjjles this 
marking almost ceases to be distinguishable. There is a consider- 
ably greater difierence in the coloration of the two species than 
there is between <S'. trochilus and S.rufa; S. humei approaching 
the latter, while S. supercUiosa bears a stronger resemblance to 
(S. sibilatrix. 

Though, apart from colour, the markings of both species must 
be regarded as similar, they are most distinctly cUfi'erentiated by 



292 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

the relations of the tliwht-feathers to each other, a relation of 
great specific import in so many of the Warbler species. In 
8. superciliosa the second of these feathers is of the same length 
as the seventh ; in H. humci, on the other hand, the second is equal 
to the ninth ; in the latter species, the sixth flight-feather still 
forms part of the tip of the wing, while in the former the same 
feather does not nearly reach the tip. 

As it is hardly likely that another ornithologist will ever be 
placed in a position to record such results of an observation of this 
interesting species, carried out on European soil, as were possible 
to me on this island, I do not think it will be considered super- 
fluous if I give in their proper order the dates of their occurrences 
from my ornithological diary : — 

1846. 4th October. — Male. First example shot by a boy with a blow- 

pipe. 

1847. 9th November. — Seen, but not killed. In September of the same 

year an example was shot near Milan. 

1848. Sth October. — Female. 10th November.— Not obtained. 

1849. 25tb April. — Beautiful male. 20th and 25th September. 

1850. 1st October. — One bird. 6th. — Obtained two females. 13th and 

17th. — One bird each day. 

1853. 12th and 17th October. — The example obtained on the latter 

date was a male. 

1854. 28tli and 30th September; 6th October. — A young bird. 

1857. 20th September. — A bird in my garden. 

1858. 22nd September. — Wounded a bird, but did not secure it. 12th 

October. — One bird. 

1859. 7th October. — Two birds in garden, one of which shot. 
„ 8th „ A fine male, with broad stripe on crown. 

„ 13th „ Obtained two birds, one of them a fine old male. 

1861. 10th „ Three examples in Jacob Dahn's willows. 

1863. 9th „ Shot a male. 

1864. 4th „ Two examples; stuffed one young bird. 

1865. 24th ,, Obtained two e.xamples, females. 

1867. 19th September. — Shot two. 11th October. — One bird ; on the 
same day an example was shot in England. 

1869. 1st October. — Saw one bird but did not obtain it. 

1870. 19th September. — Two in garden; gun wouldn't act. 20th. — 

One male presented to Newton. 
1871-72. The diaries for these years are lost. 

1873. 24th September. — Two. 25th.— Obtained one male. 26th. — 

Two, not obtained. 30th. — One male. 16th October. — 
Saw one liird, but did not obtain it. 

1874. 10th and 1 1th October. — Saw one example each day respectively. 

1875. 17th September. — Two examples, not obtained. 

1876. 25th May. — A bird in garden. 2Gth, 29th, and 30th September. 

— A bird on each day respectively. 3rd October. — A bird 
on each day respectively. 4th October. — Female in garden ; 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 293 

Seebohm missed. 5th. — A male in garden ; shot by 
Seebohm. Gth. — A bird in the trees near the stair. 7th. — 
One in my garden. 2Gth. — One in my garden. 

1877. 21st and 28th September. — A bird each day; that on Latter in 

my garden. 

1878. 2nd October. — A pretty bird in thorn-bush in garden; did not 

obtain it. 5th to 9th. — Saw a bird eacli day in garden ; 
was it the same bird"! 24th. — A bird in the trees by the 
stair. 

1879. 28th September. — One bird ; on the same day two Emberiza pusilla 

and one E. rustica. 1 4th October. — Ludwig shot a fine male ; 
another example seen by Glaus Aeuckens, and two birds side 
by side by Jan Aeuckens. 

1880. IGth September. — One bird, not obtained. 25th. — Obtained a 

fine example ; .saw another, besides another larger Warbler 
with a very broad alar band. 30th. — Saw one example ; 
likewise a S. tristis in garden. 8th October. — Saw one bird 
quite close in garden. 

1881. 29th September. — One bird, not obtained. 

1882. 23rd and 27th October. — Saw one bird each day. 

1883. 17th September. — Shot a fine bird. 

1885. 2Gth September. — One bird. 28th. — Shot two fine examples. 

1886. 7th October and 9th November. — A bird on each date respec- 

tively, not shot. 

1887. 11th October. — One bird with a very yellow stripe on crown. 

The last of these examples, and a Nutcracker {Nucifraga) shot on 
the 15th of the same month, were the only eastern occurrences during 
the whole 'of the autumn migration. This was owing to the violent 
west winds prevailing, almost without exception, at that time, which 
invariably, in the most decisive manner, prevent the movements of 
migration from proceeding within the range of our observation. 

110. — Pallas's Willow Warbler [Goldhahnchen-Laubvogel]. 

SYLVIA PROREGULUS, Pallas.^ 

Motacilla proregulus. Pallas, Zoog. Boss.-Asiat. i. 499. 

Claus Aeuckens has been a devoted fowler and gunner from his 
earliest youth. Before he had reached the age when he might be 
entrusted with powder and shot, his shooting gear consisted prin- 
cipally of a hunting-bag full of rounded pebbles, which he knew 
how to employ with the most astonishing dexterity. It was with 
such a pebble that, at the age of eleven years, he hit the first 
example of Emberiza rustica ever killed on the island. 

In later years, at times when the Guillemots were fiymg along 
the edge of the cUff at a tearing speed, I have seen him hit five or 

' Phylloscopwi prorefjuhm (Pallas). 



294 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

six of them without once missinff. He even went so far as 
to pick out particular birds for his aim ; such individuals, for 
example, as liad the white eye-streak, and I have known him to 
bring down in this manner as many as ten examples in the course 
of a few hours. At ebb-tide he used to be much about at the 
base of the cliff, where, in the course of a walk, he would hit some 
twenty or thirty smaller birds, such as Stonechats, Pipits, Sand- 
pipers, and others. 

Among a mixed bag of this kind there was found one day — 
6th October 1845 — a small Warbler which had been hit by the 
stone as it was flying along the face of the cliff, and completely 
crushed against the rock. Nevertheless, Aeuckens, who noticed 
that the bird was an unusual one, brought me one of its wings, which 
had remained undamaged, with a portion of the lower part of the 
back with part of the lemon yellow plumage still adhering to it. I 
had at that time no idea to what species this wing might belong, 
though I suspected it was one of the Reguli. Aeuckens, however, 
emphatically insisted that the bird was a Warbler. Accordingly I 
not only preserved the wing, but, as I am accustomed to do in 
doubtful cases, made an accurate drawing of it. On obtaining, a 
year afterwards, the first example of Sylvia superciliosa, I believed 
at first that I had solved the riddle ; but, on a closer examination, I 
found that, although the markings of the two were similar, their 
measurements did not agree. Several years later I read a short 
description of Regulus modestus (Sylvia proregulus), and also pro- 
cured a skin of this .species, but this also did not agree with my 
wing, as it happened to be an Indian specimen. It was not, 
however, until the summer of 1879, when Eugen von Homeyer, 
on his visit to me, brought me, among other interesting objects, a 
Siberian .skin collected by Dybowsky, and labelled Reguloides 
jororeg^dus, that I was enabled to settle definitely that my wing 
belonged to the latter species. Aeuckens, too, at once asserted, in 
the most decided manner, that this was the species of which he 
had hit one on the occasion above referred to. 

On the 29th of October 1875, Aeuckens, accompanied by his 
nephew, Lorenz Dahn, again saw a bird of this species a few steps 
in front of him under the edge of the cliff. The bird was seeking 
shelter there against a violent east wind, and could not be induced 
to come to the Upper Plateau. Had it been shot at in the position 
in which it was found it would have fallen into the surf below 
and been lost. Thus our two shooters had the leisure, enforced 
in this instance, to contemplate the bright lemon yellow plumage 
of the lower part of its back. 

Sylvia jyroregulus is scarcely any smaller than Sylvia super- 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 295 

ciliosus, and in general aspect resembles a very freshly-coloured 
specimen of the latter species. Its upper parts, however, are of a 
jnirer and lij^hter olive green, and the lemon yellow markings of 
the head and neck are considerably purer and richer. This remark 
especially applies in the case of the eye-streaks, and a stripe of the 
same colour extending from the bill across the crown of the head 
deep down to the nape of the neck. The bands on the wings are 
also broader, and of a purer j^ellow. The rump is of a rich lemon 
yellow, its colour being sharply marked oft' from that of the back, 
and it is by this fcatui'e especially that the bird may be dis- 
tinguished at a glance from the preceding species. 

The only measurements I am able to give from a fresh example 
are those of the above-mentioned wing. These, however, com- 
pletely agi-ee with those of four examples collected in eastern 
Siberia. The total length of the wing is 192 in. (49 mm.); the 
third, fourth, and fifth ftight-feathers are of equal length, and form 
the tip of the wing; the sixth recedes by '04 in. (1 vim.); the 
second is of the same length as the eighth, "23 in. (6 mm.) shorter 
than the three longest primaries, and '20 in. (.5 mm.) longer than 
the longest of the three last flight-feathers. 

A comparison of this wing with Siberian and Indian skins has 
revealed a fact which seemed hitherto to have escaped observation, 
viz. that there exists a similar case of difterence as between the 
preceding species — the Siberian S. superciliosa and the Indian 
S. humei — inasmuch as Sylvia jyi'oregidiis is not identical with the 
southern very closely related form, but presents constant difter- 
ences from the latter, both in coloration of plumage and the 
relations of the flight-feathers. 

Skins from India are described as »S'. prm^egulus ; and Seebohm, 
the Catalogue of the Birds of the British Museum, vol. v. ix 71, 
places the name PJiylloscopus proregidtis after seven Indian and 
one Siberian example ; whereas a careful examination proves that 
these two birds form two separate and independent species, like 
8. superciliosa and <S'. humei, S. tristis and »S'. fiiscata, S. trochilus 
and >S'. rufa, and probably some others. 

In colour the Indian species is distinguished from its northern 
relative, like <S'. humei, and even in a higher degree, by the deeper 
olive brown (olivenhraun) colour of the plumage; the beautiful 
sibilatrix-like lemon yellow marking on head and neck, which 
distinguishes the latter sj^ecies to such advantage, is wanting in 
the former; the stripe on the crown, and the eye-streaks, are 
dull olive brownish yellow (olivenbraunffelb) ; the back is olive 
brown, not olive green, as in S. proregxdus ; and all the underside of 
a dull oUvc yellow (olivengelb), which on the upper breast and 



296 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

neck passes into olive grey, whereas in iS. ijroregidus these parts 
are pure whitish, with a tinge of lemon yellow. 

The rump only, and the bands on the wings, are of nearly the 
same colour as in the Siberian species. 

If a row of specimens of the one species be placed side by 
side with a row of the other, the differences become really very 
striking, both on the upper and lower sides of the birds. In this 
case, however, as in so many other instances in this family, the 
measurements of the flight-feathers offer the most indisputable 
proof of the specific distinctness of the two forms. In (S'. prore- 
gulas the second flight-feather is equal to the eighth; in the 
Indian form to the tenth. In S. proregidus the third, fourth, 
and fifth flight-feathers are of equal length, and form the tip of 
the wing ; while, in the Indian form (>b'. Jimnei), the tip is formed by 
the fourth, fifth, and sixth, the third being '12 in. (3 mm.) shorter. 
In <S'. 2^'>'oregulus the second flight-feather is only -23 in. (6 m'ln.) 
shorter than the tip of the wing ; in the Indian form it is '39 in. 
(10 rum.) shorter, and in consequence almost of equal length to 
the longest posterior flight-feather, whereas in S. 'proregulus 
it projects from about '23 to "27 in. (6 to 7 tnm.) beyond the 
latter. 

It is remarkable that not only is the similar difference in 
coloration existing between B. nuperciliosa and its southern 
relative repeated in & proregulus and its southern form, but is 
accomjoanied by an almost similar difference in the structural 
formation of the wing. 

The breeding range of the present species appears to extend 
as far as the eastern portions of central Asia. 



111.— Crowned Willow Warbler [Gehaubter Laubvogel]. 
SYLVIA CORONATA, Temminck.i 

PhyUosco2J>is coronatus. Seebohiu, Cat. of Birds of Brit. Mvs., v. 49. 

This beautifully marked Warbler, whosehome is in south-eastern 
Siberia and Japan, has been caught once on this island, having 
been obtained by Reymers on the 4.th of October 1X43. At that 
time the few birds I possessed served merely as parlour decora- 
tions, as I had not yet begun to collect systematically ; and though 
I felt greatly interested in this pretty bird, especially as Reymers 
described it as never having been seen before on the island, I did 
not feel inclined to pay the high price which he asked for it. I 

' PliyHoxcojjus coronatus (Temminck ami Schlegel). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 297 

need hardly mention how much I regretted this afterwcards. The 
bird passed into the hands of Brandt at Hamburg, and may pro- 
bably still exist in some collection or other. As in other similar 
cases, 1 have never been able to ascertain anything further as to 
its whereabouts, because Brandt, in order not to betray whence he 
got so many of his rarities, never told his customers that they 
came from Hehgoland. 

Among some scattered notes, made about that time, I find the 
following data written down after I had examined the bird in the 
flesh at Reymers': October 4 (1843). — A very fine Warbler (i^ice- 
dida) obtained by Reymers. The head of the bird striped like a 
Reed Warbler ; the stripe on the crown of the head sulphur yellow, 
the colour very light on the nape of the nock, and very dark on its 
sides. Upper parts a very beautiful yellowish green, lower parts 
white. Under tail-coverts of a very beautiful yellow. The wings 
with a light transverse stripe. The second flight-feather longer 
than the seventh. 

The bird has never been seen again on the island ; nor have I 
been able to find, among the many skins of this species which I 
have since that time had occasion to examme, an example in 
which the stripe on the crown of the head was of so light a colour, 
the back so pure yellowish green, or the under tail-coverts so 
intensely yellow as in the bird which was found here. 

112. — Eversmann's "Warbler [Nordischer Ladbvogel]. 

SYLVIA BOREALIS, Blasius.i 

Sylvia (Phyllop7ieuste) borealis. Nauinann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtrdge, 69. 

Erersmann's Warbler. Dresser, ii. 509. 

Phylloscopus borealis. Seebohm, Cat. of Birds of Brit. Mus., v. 40. 

This bird was first described as new to Europe in the Nauman- 
nia, and afterwards in the Supplements to Naumann's Birds of 
Germany, by Blasius after his visit to me in 1858. Until then the 
example in my collection, which had been killed by one of my 
young blow-pipe friends on the 6th of October 1854, formed 
certainly the only instance of the occurrence of this species on 
European soil. Nor has a second examj^le come into my hands 
since, although, on the 1st of June 1859, Glaus Aeuckens as.sured 
me that on the afternoon of the same day he had seen a bird of 
this species from two to three paces in front of him, outside of the 
rampart on the eastern edge of the cliff: in spite of all search, 
however, the bird could not be discovered again. 

' Phylloscopus borealis (Blasius). 



298 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

From 185S until 1872 nothing further was heard about this 
Warbler ; but, in the summer of the latter year, Alston and Harvie- 
Brown met with it near Archangel. After that date it was observed 
by Seebohm and Harvie-Brown, in June 1875, on the Lower 
Petchora ; while in 1876, and during the following years, it was 
discovered by Collett in Finmark, at the Porsanger and \Yaranger 
Fjords, beyond 70° N. latitude, under conditions from which we 
may conclude with safety that the sjDecies breeds in those districts. 

Neither nest nor eggs were known, however, until Seebohm 
found them in 1877, during his expedition to the Lower Jenesei, in 
latitude 67° N., in the latter district. From an example before me 
of the only clutch in Seebohm's possession, it is at once character- 
ised as the n'g^ of a Warbler. Its length is '67 in. (17 mm.): 
breadth, "49 in. (12i ?n«i.) ; and it is rounded otf to an equal 
extent towards both extremities. The shell is white, with a slight 
gloss, and has a faint sprinkling of small spots, as light as those of 
the eggs of S. frochilus, but in shade approaching more to a rich 
pink than a reddish brown. 

The bird killed here, and in my collection, was in fresh autumn 
plumage, in which, with the exception of .S'. tristis and S. fuscatus, 
there occurs the least amount of sulphur yellow of any related 
species of the same genus noted here. All the upper parts are of a 
rather dusk}- greyish green, the colour being a little darker on the 
head and slightly lighter on the rump. The lower parts, includmg 
the under tail-coverts, are dull white ; the breast and sides clouded 
with grey, and with a scarcely perceptible tinge of pale sulphur- 
yellow everywhere. A sharply-defined eye-streak of pure whitish 
sulphur-yellow extends from the bill to the back of the head ; this 
does not gradually get duller as it runs backward, but ends quite 
abruptly in its pure coloration. The wings on the outside are of 
the same colour as the back, and have a dull light yellow band 
formed by the spots on the tips of the lai-ge wing-coverts. 

The measurements of this species, as taken from the freshlj'- 
killed bird, are as follows : Total length, 4-33 ins. (110 mm.) ; length 
of wing in repose, 228 ins. (.58 mm.); length of tail, 1-65 in. (42 
mm.) ; length of tail uncovered by wings, -51 in. (13 mm.). The 
bill is very strong, and measures '43 in. (11 mm.), and the length 
of the tarsus is '67 in. (17 77177!.). 

In the wing the second flight-feather is of the same length as 
the sixth; the third, fourth, and the fifth — which is -04 in. (1 7?i77).) 
shorter — form the tip of the wing. The tip of the longest posterior 
flight-feather is 'oO in. (1.5 mm.) distant from the tip of the wing. 

The tail is double-rounded {doppclt ahgerundet), the central 
and second lateral pair of feathers being -04 in. (1 7rt77i.) shorter 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 299 

than the fifth, fourth, and third, and the outer pair '12 in. (3 owni.) 
shorter than these latter. All the feathers are drawn out to a 
point at the shaft, a conformation produced by the shallow sinua- 
tion of the inner web. 

The name 8. borealis is a particularly fitting one in the case of 
this bird, for of no other species of this family are the nesting 
quarters so exclusively confined to the higher latitudes. They 
extend from 70" 20' N. in Finmark; within the same parallels, 
along the Arctic coasts of the whole of Asia and across to Alaska. 
Middendorii" met with the bird on the Lower Boganiida, and the 
Yega Expedition found it numerously on the coast of the 
Tchuktchee peninsula. 

113. — Greenish Tree "Warbler [GkOxer Laubvogel]. 
SYLA'IA VIRIDANA, Blyth.i 

Phylloscopus viridanus. Seebohm, Cat. of Birds of Brit. 3Ius., v. 44. 
Greenish Tree Warbler. Jerdon, Birds of India, ii. 193. 

This East Asiatic species, hitherto strange to Europe, I have 
obtained m Heligoland three times. The first example, a young 
bird, on the 2.5th of September 1S7S ; afterwards a fine male, shot 
by my son Ludwig on the 30th of May 1879; and lastly, on the 
3rd of June 1880, I had the pleasure of shooting a beautiful female 
in mj- garden. The two last examples are perfectly uninjured ; 
the first is much damaged, but nevertheless preserved with the 
other two in my cabinet. 

It should in this j^lace be noted, that the male bird shot in 
May had, in the fresh condition, olive grey feet, and may accord- 
ingly have to be placed under 8. 2}lumbeitarstis (Swinhoe). It 
exhibits, however, no further difference of any kind from the two 
other examples, and I therefore do not propose to describe it as a 
separate species on account of a peculiarity which is no longer 
evident in the dried example. 

The fact of its having occurred here three times within so short 
a space of time might suggest the thought as to whether this may 
not be the same Warbler met with by Collett in Upper Scandi- 
navia, especially as in its external apj^earance it closely apj^roaches 
8. horealis. However, after receiving one of CoUett's examples, I 
do not consider this suspicion warranted by the facts. 

In its general appearance this species bears a strong resemblance 
to the preceding, S. horealis. The bill, however, is much smaller, 
in fact a typical Warbler's bill; whereas this organ is, in 8. horealis, 
^ Phyllotcopus viridana (Blytli). 



300 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

unusually strong. The coloration of the upper parts is not so 
dull as in the latter species, but is of a lighter greyish green, and 
the whole underside is of a rather intense dull greenish yellow 
colour. The eye-streak is sharply defined and light sulphur j^ellow; 
the dull greyish yellow band on the wing stretches over the tips of 
the first four or five greater wing-coverts. 

The measurements of the bird are as follows : — Total length, 
4'33 ins. (110 77J9?i.) ; length of wings, 2-44 ins. (62 mm.) ; length of 
tail, 1'85 in. (47 mm.); length of tail uncovered by wings, '75 in. 
(19 mm.). These measurements refer to the male : those of the 
female are somewhat smaller. The bill measures '27 in. (7 mm.), 
and the tarsus '71 in. (18 mm.). 

In the wing the second flight-feather is of the same len<rth as 
the seventh (in small females it is equal to the eighth). The third, 
fourth, and fifth are of equal length, and form the tip of the wing, 
the sixth receding only very slightly from the latter. 

Seebohm states that S. viridanus nests in Kashmir, and 
S. 2ylumbeitarsus — the validity of which, as a species, he much 
doubts — from Turkestan to the Amur. We luay accordingly 
regard central Asia as the breeding area of this species. 

114.- — Bright-green Tree Warbler [Gelber Laubvogel]. 

SYLVIA NITIDA, Blyth.^ 

Phylloscopus nitidus. Seebolun, Cat. of Birds of Brit. Mus., ii. 43. 

Bright-green Tree Warhlcr. Jerdon, Birds of India, ii. 193. 

This Warbler from south-eastern Asia — a species entirely new to 
Europe — was shot by my son Ludwig on the 11th of October 1867, 
and forms certainly one of the most interesting specimens in my 
collection. A Sylvia ■superciliosa had been seen on the same day, 
and my son was searching through the garden for it, when in place 
of it he came across this valuable acquisition to the avifauna of 
Heligoland. What, however, could have induced a bird, never met 
with north-Avest of the Himalayas, to exchange the palms of the 
Ganges for this barren clift" of the Northern Sea, is, indeed, difficult 
to conjecture. 

All that is known up to the present time in regard to this rare 
stranger is limited to some scattered observations of English in- 
vestigators. Seebohm, in the Caialogue of the Birds of the British 
Museum, sums it up as follows : — ' The bird probably breeds in the 
north-western Himalaya, and winters in Bengal, northern India, 
and Ceylon.' 

' Phylloscopus nitidus (Blyth). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 301 

The example shot on the island, as related above, perfectly a<7rees 
with several Indian specimens shown me by Seebohm during his 
visit here, and with another from the same country in my possession. 

The best general idea of the plumage of this bird is conveyed 
by imagining the upper parts of a S. sibilatrh: in a pure and 
fresh plumage, combined with the underside of a very pretty *S'. 
hi/jwlais. Excepting that in S. nitida the posterior flight-feathers 
have no yellow edges, all the upper parts are of a uniform fresh 
light-yellowish green, ^vith a very shght admixture of verdigris, 
the top of the head not being darker, nor the lower part of the 
back lighter, than the rest. The whole underside, including the 
under tail-coverts, is of a uniform pure and soft hght sulphur 
yeUow, likewise with a very faint touch of verdigris colour. A broad 
ej-e-streak, extending to the back of the head, is of the same colour, 
as also is a band on the wing formed by the hght tips of the large 
wing-coverts. 

The bill is pale yellowish flesh coloured {fjelhlich fleischfarhen), 
with the tip of somewhat darker horn colour. The feet are light 
bluish grey. The measurements of the bird are as follows : — 
Total length, 4-68 ins. (119 mm.)\ length of wing, 2-48 ins. 
(63 mm.): length of the squarely-truncate tail, 1'96 in. (50 mm.); 
length of tail uncovered by wings, '86 in. (22 mm.). The bill, 
which is very broad at its base, is '47 in. (12 rum.), and the tarsus 
measures -82 in. (21 mm.). 



115. — Icterine Warbler [Gaetex-Laubvogel]. 

SYLYIA HYPOLAIS, Linn.i 
Heligolandish : Groot Guhl-Fliegenbitter=iaj'9i! Yellow Warbler. 

Forty or fifty years ago this bird might have been met with on 
the island in fairly large numbers almost regularly every May : 
owing, however, to the changes in meteorological conditions which 
have taken place since that time, it has by degrees become so rare 
that one may nowadays count oneself lucky to find one, or at most 
two, on exceptionally warm May daj'S in the upper branches of 
garden bushes. They are still rai'er during the return migration in 
August, one or more being met with now and again on the potato- 
fields of the Upper Plateau. 

The onl}- instance of its occurrence which I am able to record, is 
that of a pair which, in the summer of 1876, built their nest in my 
neighbour's garden, and reared five young birds. I used to see and 

' Hypo/ais icferina (Vieill.). 



302 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

hear the whole family eveiy day in uiy garden until the Sth of 
August, when they disappeared, though they probably stayed some 
short time longer in the fields among the potato and cabbage jilots. 
As early as the 4th of the same month I have caught here a 
young S. sibilatri.c, and on the 7th a young />'. 'phragmitis. 

This Warbler breeds in northern France, Germany, Russia, and 
beyond the Ural. The northern range of its breeding area extends to 
central Scandinavia. In England the bird has only been met with 
twice. 



116. — Melodious Warbler [Sanger Laubvogel]. 

SYLVIA POLYGLOTTA, Vieillot.i 

Hypolais pohjglotta. Seebohra, Cat. of Birds of Brit. Mus., v. 79. 

Melodious Warbler. Dresser, ii. 517. 

Bee-fin icterine. Temminck, Manuel, iii. 1 50. 

I obtained a very line example of this species on the 23rd 
of May 1846 ; since that time the bird has not been seen here 
again. This is not surprising; for although it is met with as a 
breeding species as far as central France, it belongs to those pre- 
eminently western species which never exhibit a tendency towards 
deviating to the east from the strict north-to-south course of their 
migration. 

This Warbler displays a great similarity to the preceding 
species, but is distinguished from the latter by its smaller size, the 
more intense yellow coloration of its lower parts, and the different 
construction of the wing. In >S'. hyjwlais the total length of the latter 
is 3'07 ins. (78 m7?i.), in S. polyglotta it is only 2-56 ins. (65 mm.); in 
the former species the second flight-feather is shorter than the 
fourth, and the third ■04 in. (1 m77i.) longer than the fourth; in 
the latter the second is shorter than the sixth, and the third, fourth, 
and fifth, which are of almost equal size, form the tip of the 
wing. 

Sylvia polyglotta nests preferably in Spain and Portugal ; few 
examples are found breeding in central France, and still fewer in 
Italy. It is also said to have been caught once or twice in Belgium, 
and once in Austria. 

' Hypolais jmlyglotta ( Vieill. ). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 303 

117. — Olive-tree Warbler [oliven-Sanger]. 

SYLVIA OLIVETOKUM, Strickland.i 

Hypolais olivetoruni. Seebohm, Cat. of Birch of Brit. Mtis., v. 79. 

Olive-tree Warbler. Dresser, ii. 527. 

Bee-fin des oliviers. Temminck, Manuel, iv. 611. 

One of these Warblers was shot in 1860 by a boy with a blow- 
pipe. Unfortunately, I only heard of it a few days after. In the 
interval children had been playing with the bird, and had so 
completely ruined it that it was no longer fit for presei-ving. 
Ignorance, unfortunately, too often entails losses of this kind. 
For instance, one day Aeuckens brought me a complete set of the 
tail-feathers of a Stonechat, all of which, with the exception of the 
central pair, were entirely black, except on the upper sixth portion 
of their length. It appears that boys had been plucking Common 
Stonechats in the fields, among which was the bird whose tail was 
brought to me by Aeuckens. It happened at the end of August, a 
time at which the young birds of many different species of Stone- 
chats closely resemble each other. 

However, I was to some extent compensated for the loss of this 
Warbler: for, in the course of the same summer, from the 12th of 
May to the 18th of June, I obtained the following rarities: — 
Saxicola aurita, a splendid white male ; Tiirdus saxatilis, an old 
female; MiLscicapa alhicollis, a beautiful old male; Eraheriza 
raelanocephala, an old male; and finally, Charadrius fulvus. 

The Olive-tree Warbler breeds in Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine, 
and north Africa. 

118. — Olivaceous Warbler [Blasser s.^nger]. 

SYLVIA PALLIDA, Ehrenberg.^ 

Hypolais pallida. Seebohm, Cat. of Birds of Brit. Mus., v. 82. 
Olivaceous Warbler. Dresser, ii. 537. 

Until September 20th 1883, when my son Ludwig shot the one 
example of this species in my possession, this bird had never been 
observed north-west of Greece. The time of its occurrence here is 
a very unusual one for birds belonging to south-eastern species, and 
we may probably assume that the individual in question had been 
roving about ever since June in northern or north-western areas, 
and was, at the time of its capture, engaged on its homeward 
passage. 

' Hypolaia olivttorum (Silnc^X.). - Hypolais paUida CEhv.). 



30i THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

The breeding area of this species extends, according toSeebohm, 
through Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine, Turkestan, and Persia, as 
well as to the north-eastem parts of Africa. 

The example shot here undoubtedly belongs to the eastern 
form, S. pallida; the western varietj^, S. opaca (Lichtenstein), 
which one would hardly expect to meet with here, appears, so far as 
I am able to judge from the limited material at my disposal, to be 
a little larger, more inclined to rust colour than to olivaceous, 
besides diftering in the construction of the wing, — the second 
flight-feather being of equal length to the seventh, and not, as in 
S. j)allida, to the sixth. 

The coloration of my specimen is as follows : — All the upper 
parts, as well as the edges of the smaller and larger wing-coverts, 
are of a pale olive-brown gi'ey {oliven-hraungrau), with a very 
marked olive-yellow tinge ; the lower parts are dull whitish 
ochreous yellow. The flight-feathers and rectrices are pale greyish 
brown, the outer web of the outermost pair of the latter being 
whitish. 

The feet of the freshly-killed bird were dark bluish grey, the 
colour being very dark on the toes ; the bill is of very pale whitish 
horn colour (weisslich hornfarhen), the tip being hardly darker 
than the rest of the organ. 

In the wing, the second flight-feather is equal in length to the 
sixth ; the third, fourth, and fifth form the tip of the wing, the 
last being about '04 in. (1 mm.), shorter than the other two. 

Total length of the fresh example, 4'68 ins. (119 mm.) ; length of 
wing, 2'40 ins. (61 mm.) ; length of tail uncovered by wing, -98 in. 
(2.5 mm.) ; length of tail, 1'92 ins. (49 mm.) ; the outer pair of tail- 
feathers is 16 in. (4 mm.) shorter than the rest. Length of bill, 
•43 in. (11 m77i.) ; length of tarsus, -90 in. (23 mm.). 



119. — Booted Warbler [Zwerg-Sanger]. 
SYLVIA SALICARIA, Pallas.i 

Sylvia (Iduna) salicaria. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtrcige, 79. 
Booted Warbler. Dresser, ii. 541. 

Riverain botte. Schlegel, Krit. d. Europaischen Vugel, 

pp. XXX. and 60. 

' Here is a small Reed Warbler with the tail of an ordinary 
Warbler.' These were the words with which Glaus Aeuckens pre- 
sented to me, on the 2Sth of September 1S51, a small bird which 
he had just shot. And the bird was indeed almost an exact minia- 

' Hypolais calir/ata { Liclit. ). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 305 

ture of S. palustrw in the faded and worn plumage ; it turned out 
to ho AlotacUla (Sijlria)salirari<i (l^aWas, Zoot; r. Boi^s.-Asiat. i. 492). 
The dress of this example is unusually worn and faded ; it was 
undoubtedly a bird of the preceding year, just about to commence its 
first complete autumn moult. All the upper parts are light greyish 
brown, with a very slight inclination towards olive-yellow. The 
lower parts are dull whitish, the sides of the neck and upper breast 
have a faint touch of the colour of the back, and there is a blurred 
whitish streak above the eye. All the smaller plumage, particu- 
larl}' on the lower parts, is very dense — almost fur-like. 

The flight-feathers and rectriccs are of a somewhat darker 
greyish brown than the back, and their blurred edges are less 
light : the outer pair of tail-feathers are dull whitish, the outer 
webs being particularly light. The feet and bill of the freshly 
killed bird were of a light whitish flesh colour, the upper mandible 
and tip of the bill being brownish. 

The measurements of the bird are as follows : — Total length, 
4-48 ins. (114 mm.) : length of wing, 2 ins. (51 mm.) ; length of tail, 
177 in. (45 inm.): length of tail uncovered by wings, 1-06 in. 
(27 mm.). The bill is -SS in. (9 mm.) long, the tarsus strong and 
■78 in. (10 mm.) in length. In the wing, which is very abruptly 
truncate, the second flight-feather is of the same length as the 
.seventh, the third and fourth are of equal length and form the 
point of the wing, the fifth very slightly receding from the latter. 
The point of the wing projects only "35 in. (9 mm.) beyond the 
longest posterior flight-feather. In the tail, which is double rounded, 
the central and outer pairs of feathers are •12 in. (3 i/rrti.) shorter 
than the rest. 

This bird is an interesting novelty to Europe. According to 
Seebohm, its breeding range extends through Turkestan, Kashmir, 
and south-eastern Siberia. Pallas has met with it on the Lena, 
extending to the northern limit of willow shrubs. 

The eggs of this species are very pretty, like those of other species 
comprised in the hi/pola <*■ group ; they have a delicate greyish pink 
ground colour, sprinkled with many fine and a few larger black dots, 
some of which coalesce into short dashes, and sometimes into fine 
hair-like lines. Examples are also found in which the ground colour 
is white, and which in addition to the black dots have small grey 
blotches. In form the eggs are roundish, their length being -59 in. 
(15 mm.) and their breadth 47 in. (12 mm.). 



306 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

120. — Great Reed "Warbler [Drossel-Eohrsanger]. 
SYLVIA TURDOIDES, Meyer.i 

Heligolandish : Groot Siillen-Kruper = G)'«aS Eeed Warbler. ' Siillen- 
Kroper ' is the generic name used in Heligoland for the Reed War- 
bler ; it may be translated by 'Hedge-Creeper.' 

Sylvia turdoich's. Naumann, iii. 597. 

Great Reed Warbler. Dresser, ii. 579. 

Bee-fin Rousserolle. Temminck, Manuel, i. 183, iii. 109. 

This elegant bird has only once been captured in Heligoland, 
and this nearly tifty years ago. The example was stufted by 
Reymers, from whom I obtained it afterwards. Since that time 
the occurrence here of a large Reed Warbler has been twice reported 
to me ; but I have never obtained another example. 

The breeding range of this species extends from Portugal to 
Turkestan, including North Africa, Asia Minor, and Palestine; 
towards the north the bird is found nesting as far as the North Sea 
and Baltic, and in solitary instances in Sleswick-Holstein and 
Denmark. It has never yet been met with in Scandinavia, and 
only one instance of its occurrence in England appears to be fortli- 



121. — Reed "Warbler [Teich-Eohrsangek]. 

SYLVIA ARUNDINACEA, Latham.^ 
Heligolandish: Grii Siillen-Kroper=6rfi/ 2Jcf(Z Warbler. 

Sylvia arundinacea. Naumann, iii. 614. 

Eeed Warbler. Dresser, ii. 567. 

Bee-fin roseaux. Temminck, Manuel, i. 191, iii. 115. 

This species is met with almost annually, but only in ex- 
tremely isolated instances. In the earlier years, when the weather 
was warmer, several birds might have been obtained in the course 
of a single day ; whereas now, this is scarcely possible either in the 
course of a whole spring or autunm. This is so much the more 
surprising, as, according to Rohweder, the species is a common 
breeding bird in Sleswick-Holstein. Its nesting stations extend 
from Portugal to Turkestan; in the south to Asia Minor, Palestine, 
and North Africa ; and in the north to Lower Sweden. 

' Acrocephalus turdoides {^eyer). - Acrocephalus slfeperii.': (YieiW.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 307 

122.— Marsh Warbler [Sumpf-Eohrsanger]. 
SYLVIA PALUSTRIS, Becbstein.i 

Heligolandish : Same name as preceding species. 

Sylvia pahtstris. Naumann, iii. 630. 

Marsh Warbler. Dresser, ii. 573. 

Bee-Jin VerderoUe. Temminck, Manuel, i. 192, iii. 116. 

This species, like the jjreceding, was in former years met with 
far more frequently in Heligoland than is the case now. As regards 
numbers, too, it was far better represented than the preceding- 
species — a relation which obtains even at the present day in regard 
to the few individuals still visiting the island. The birds rarely 
make their appearance before the beginning of May, and only on 
fine warm days, when it is not rare to hear the almost hypolais-like 
song of one or another of these songsters as it hops through a 
hedge of thorns. 

However late these birds may migrate in spring, they neverthe- 
less pass through very early on their return journc}' ; thus I shot in 
my garden a fine old example in my collection as early as the 22nd 
of July 1876. 

The breeding range of this species appears to extend from 
western France across the Ural ; its southern range does not come 
up to that of the preceding species, and in the north it does not 
reach beyond the Baltic. Isolated instances are known of its 
occurrence in England, while in Holland it is known to breed very 
abundantly. 

123.— Paddy-field Warbler [Feld-Eohksanger]. 
SYLVIA AGRICOLA, Jerdon.2 

Acroceplialus agricolus. Jerdon, Birds of India, ii. 156. 
Paddy-fitld Warbler. Dresser, ii. 559. 

The 12th of June 1864 was one of those days such as faU to 
the lot of the ornithologist only in Heligoland, but that also fairly 
frequently. During the morning of that day I obtained two 
strangers from the far East, never hitherto met with in Europe, 
nor ever seen since then anywhere nearer than Asia Minor and the 
Lower Volga. One of these birds was Si/lvia mc.toleuca, which has 
been already dealt with ; the other the present species. Two skins 
of this species were subsequently obtained by Dresser from the 

' Acroceplia/ us pal nil ris (Bechst.). - Acrorephalus arjrlcola (Jerd.). 



308 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

western Ural, and during the last decade the birds, together with 
nests and eggs, have come into the market from the Kirgiz Steppes. 

The plumage of the example shot here and preserved in my 
collection is, as one might expect from the time of the year in 
\vhi(:;h it was taken, much worn and faded. All the upper parts are 
(lull greyish brown, with a scarcely perceptible tinge of rust-colour 
on the rump. The lower parts and the faintly marked eye-streak 
are dull whitish, with hardly any admixture of rust-colour. The 
flight-feathers and rectrices are of a somewhat darker greyish brown 
than the back, in which the rust-colour of the earlier plumage 
remains most perceptible. 

In the colour of its fresh plumage this bird almost exactly 
resembles S. arundinacea, except that the crown of the head is con- 
siderably darker than the back, and the eye-streak lighter and more 
sharpl}^ accentuated : on the upper jsarts as well as on the sides of 
the breast and on the flanks, the dominant colour is a bright 
ferruginous, while there is nowhere even an approach to an oliva- 
ceous tint. 

The measurements of the example shot here are as follows : — 
Total length, 4-72 ins. (120 mm.); length of the wing, 2-04 ins. 
(52 mm.); length of tail, 2 ins. (51 mm.); length of tail uncovered 
by wings, 1-38 in. (35 inm.). The beak measures -39 in. (10 mm.) 
the tarsus '82 in. (21 mm.). 

In the wing the second flight-feather is somewhat shorter than 
the sixth, the third and fourth are of equal length and form the 
point of the wing, the flfth receding by about 1 mm. The tail is 
very pointed, the outer pair of rectrices being in my specimen 
■35 in. (9 Tnm.) and the next pair '16 in. (4 mm.) shorter than the 
central pair. 

The breeding range of this small Reed Warbler extends, accord- 
ing to Seebohm, from the Lower Volga through Turkestan and 
Kashmir, probably as far as China. An egg in my possession 
obtained from Schliiter, in Halle, and stated to have come from the 
Volga, measures '67 in. (17 mm.) in length, and '51 in. (13 mm.) 
in breadth, being of rather rounded shape. In colour and mark- 
ing it entirely conforms to the characters of the unspotted Reed 
Warblers already described. The ground colour is a light yellowish 
green, somewhat fresher than in S. arundinacea, with roundish 
sharply defined olive-grey blotches, and for the most part roimded 
and sharply detincd spots, varying in the depth of the colouring as 
well as in size. The markings are not very crowded, but every- 
where allow the ground colour to be distinctly seen. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 309 

124. — Sedge Warbler [Schilf-Hoiii!sangek]. 

SYLVIA PHRAGMITIS, Bechstein.' 

Heligolamlisli : Siillen-Krciper = -Recrf Warbler. 

i^ijlvia phragmitis. Naumann, iii. 64S. 

Sedge Warbler. Dresser, ii. 597. 

Bev-fin phragmite. Temminck, Manuel, i. 189, iii. 115. 

This binl ininht, as compared with its t,'eneric rehxtivcs, not 
inaptly be teniied the Xorthem Reed Warbler, for no other species 
advances in the summer into such high latitudes ; and inasmuch 
as it does so in largo numbers, Heligoland, too, receives a numerous 
contingent of these northern migrants. Not only does the bird 
occur here more frequently than any of the related species, but its 
numbers exceed those of all the others taken together. For a 
Sylvia of such small size, the migration of this species commences 
here very early, it being by no means rare to meet with solitary 
arrivals as early as the end of March. The main body, how- 
ever, arrive during April, though the time of migration lasts 
pretty late into Ma}^ The bird may then be seen daily gliding 
about among garden bushes, or the rock talus at the foot of the 
clitt', or even seeking for aquatic insects among the sea-tang 
washed ashore. 

During the autunm migration, which begins as early as August 
and lasts into October, the bird is met with in large numbers in the 
potato- and cabbage-plots of the Upper Plateau (Oberland), especially 
in fields which ai-e lying fallow, and are much grown over with wild 
mustard, but occasionally also numerously among the rubble and 
sea-wrack at the foot of the cliff. 

The breeding range of this sjjecies is of a very wide extent. In 
Scandinavia it reaches to 70° N. latitude, and thence stretches 
through England, the north of France and Germany, down to the 
Danube regions, and eastwards within the same parallels of latitude 
to the other side of the Jenesei, where the bird was still found 
abundantly by Seebohm. 

' Acroccplialus fthragmitia (Bechst. ). 



310 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

125. — Aquatic Warbler [Binsen-Eohksaxgek]. 

SYLVIA A(^UAT1CA, Latham. i 

Heligolaudish : Straked Siillen-Kroper = 6'h-y)(!f( Meed Warbler. 

Sylvia aquatica. Naumann, iii. p. 686. 

Aquatic Warbler. Dresser, ii. p. 591. 

Bee-fin aquatic. Temminck, Manuel, i. 188, iii. p. 1 14. 

I first found tliis handsome bhd in 1847, since which time it has 
been met with and shot in Hehgoland almost every year, though, 
for the most part, in solitary cases. In 1S5.5, however, the bird 
occurred pretty frequently, and in the following year in extraordi- 
narily large numbers. 

The distribution of this species as a breeding bird is scarcely 
as j-et ascertained to its full extent ; at any rate, the conditions 
under which it makes its appearance here are not in harmony with 
the statements made in regard to its breeding area. The nesting 
stations cited for this species are Algiers, Italy, France, Germany — 
especially the west — Holland, and in solitary instances in Sleswick- 
Holstein and Denmark. 

From the frequent, and in one case at least, very mnnerous 
appearances of young birds during the autunm migration, and their 
complete absence in the spring — I have only once obtained a bird 
in April — we may with safety conclude that, so far as Heligoland is 
concerned, the species is a far Eastern one. This conclusion received 
considerable support from the fact that, on the 13th of August 1856, 
when these birds appeared here in unprecedented numbers, another 
species from Eastern Asia was taken — viz. Sylvia certhiola. Again, 
during September 1876, when several individuals of S. aquatica 
were seen and shot here, a very strong migration of eastern species 
took place. Thus, on the 4th, 6th, and 15th, and daily from the 
last date to the end of the month, Anfhus richanli occurred in 
numbers from live to twenty ; on the 22nd, two examples oi AntJms 
cervinus and one of Motacilla citreola ; on the 25th, two examples 
of S. aquatica were shot, and one example each day oi S. siiperci- 
liosa on the 26th, 29th, and oOth. Similar occurrences were 
repeated m the course of October. 

The hundreds and more of these birds that arrived here on the 
13th of August, above referred to, could not have come from Sles- 
wick-Holstein or Denmark ; for, in the first place, they are far too rare 
in the latter countries for such a possibility, and secondly because, 
from reasons hitherto unexplained, no migration at all of species 

' Acroctphahiis aqualicus (Gmel. ). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 311 

native to those countries takes place to Heligoland. This is proved 
by the fact that species which count among the commonest in 
Sleswick - Holstein, such as Lanius coUurio, S. arundhmcea, 
Alauda cristata, Emberiza miliaria, and others, are in Heligoland 
only of very rare occurrence : the last but one, in fact, has only 
occurred singly at intervals of many years. 

Kussow does not include the Aquatic Warbler in his Birds of 
Esthonia and Courland, nor does Btichner mention it among his 
Birds of the St. Petersburg Circuit. It would appear therefore that 
the birds of this species which reach Hehgoland, do so by a route 
direct from east to west, like S. ccrthiola and Anthus richardi, 
whose breeding homes are in the Amoor countries. 

My two earliest examples from Heligoland I obtained on the 
9th and 18th of August respectively of 1847 ; two others were 
obtained on the 6th of October 1853 ; a bird entered in my ornitho- 
logical diary as cariceti ? on the 22nd of April 1854.. In the course 
of 1855 I obtained examples on the 13th, 14th, 17th, and 30th of 
August, and also on the 8th of October. In the following year, 1856, 
I obtained several on the 12th of August, but the day after that the 
birds were so abundant that I shot eighteen of them in some narrow 
plots of land which were lying fallow and thickly overgrown with 
wild mustard. I might easily have doubled or quadrupled this 
number, but was unwilling to sacrifice any more of these pretty 
little creatures, and had enough material to convince myself that 
the grey cariceti plumage is not to be found among freshly moulted 
autumn bii-ds, but only, as in the case of the April examples men- 
tioned above, in individuals in faded spring plumage. 

Among the examples obtained here we find every gradation, 
from the most beautiful rich orange-buft" {rostorange) to a pale 
yellowish-buff (rostgelb), and from individuals in which every 
feather on the sides of the breast and flanks has a strong black 
streak running along the line of the shaft, to those in which 
there is not the least trace of such a marking. A most interesting 
example was brought to me a few years ago. This individual was 
almost of a uniform, very light, yellowish-buff, all that was left 
of the black markings of the crown of the head and back being in 
the form of very narrow sti'caks. Unfortunately the shooter in his 
eagerness to secure the bird, had fired at such close quarters that 
it was completely useless for preserving. 



31-2 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

126. — Pallas' Warbler [Gestkeifter I'ohksanger]. 
SYLVIA CERTHIOLA, PaUas.i 

iiylvia {Calaiiioherpe) certhiola. Naiuuaim, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtmge, 91. 

Fallas' Warbler. Dresser, ii. 633. 

Bcc-fiii Trapu. Tuiimiiuck, Mioihc/, i. 1S6, iii. 113. 

I was not a little proud of 1113- collection, at that time very 
modest as regards numbers, when so eminent an authority on 
the European bird-fauna as Blasius, during his first visit in 
1858, remarked in reference to two examples, ' that ho could not 
on the spur of the moment determine them.' And great was my 
joy when my reply, expi-essed more in the form of a question, 
that one of them might be iS'. rcrthioUi, was confirmed in the 
course of the conversation. The other bird was »s'. horcalifi 
which naturally at that time I had not Ijeen able to become 
acquainted with. 

For this addition from the far east of Asia, European orni- 
thology is again indebted to Heligoland. Temminck, indeed, had 
cited the species as European, but this was owing to an error, the 
example described by him, which was obtained from Pallas, having 
been shot east of Lake Baikal. 

Von Middendorft" has obtained this Reed Warbler on the Sea 
of Ochotsk, and Von Kittlitz has met with it in Kamtschatka, 
My example, which Blasius at that time called the jewel of my 
collection, I obtained here on the loth of August, it having been 
caught on the preceding night at the glasses of the lighthouse. 
It is a young bird in the tirst autunm plumage. 

The plumage of this species, especially in young birds, has a 
silky sheen, as in S. aquatica and B. pliragmitii^, anil is unlike the 
broadly-barbed and stitf plumage of S. locustella. In my example 
the feathers of the upper parts are olivaceous reddish-brown {oliveii- 
rosthrawn), and have in the middle a brownish-black longitudinal 
stripe occupying about a thu'd of the breadth of each feather, and 
extending, as in S. aquatica, to the tip of each. In this way con- 
nected stripes are formed on the head and back, whicli, at the back 
of the neck, are somewhat mdistinct, while on the rump they are 
almost supplanted by the broad edges and tips of the feathers 
which here pass into pure oUvaceous rusty yellow {oliven-rostgelb); 
the same happens in regard to the upper tail-coverts, which, how- 
ever, have the same dark coloration as the feathers of the back. 

AU the lower parts of the bird, with the exception of the under 

' Locudella cert/iiola(Va,\\.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 31:5 

tail-coverts, are of a soft olivaceous sulphur yellow. On the belly, 
throat, and sides of the neck the colour is almost pure sulphur 
yellow, suffused on the upper breast, and the sides of the breast, 
with the colour of the back. From above the darker ear-coverts a 
light olivaceous yellow eye-streak extends from the beak to the 
back of the head. Each feather of the lower parts, excepting those of 
the chin and belly, has a tine blackish-brown streak running along 
the line of the shaft. The imder tail-coverts are dull rust colour, 
and have a blurred darker stripe along the line of the shaft. 

The wing-feathers are blackish-bro^vn, and all have sharply 
defined edges of the same colour as the back : the tail-feathers are 
faintly black, the outer webs having broad bliu-red edges of the 
same colour as the back, the central pair being almost imiformly of 
this colour ; each feather has a large whitish well defined spot on 
its tip. These spots are the exact opposite to those of the woodcock, 
being almost piu'e white on the upper side, but slaty gi-eyish-white 
below. 

This is a larne and robust buxl, its measurements beinsr as 
follows: — Total length, 574 ins. (146 mvi.): length of the wing, 
2-60 ins. (66 mm.): length of tail, 224 ins. (57 mm.): length of tail 
uncovered by wings, 1-61 in. (41 mm.). The beak, which is not very 
strong relatively to the general proportions of the bird, measures 
•43 m. (11 mm.), and the tarsus '90 in. (23 nnm.). 

In the wing, which is short and much rounded, the second 
flight-feather is a little shorter than the fourth, the third being the 
longest, and projecting 12 in. (3 mm.) beyond the fourth. The 
length from the tip of the longest posterior flight-feather to the 
point of the wing is -75 in. (19 mm.). 

In the tail, which is very round, short and broad, the outer pair 
of feathers is -75 in. (19 inm.) shorter than the central pair, the 
other pairs following in steps of -43, -27, '12 and 04 inches re- 
spectively (11, 7, 3 and 1 mm.). The longest under tail-coverts are 
■20 m. (5 mm.) longer than the outer pair of tail-feathers. 

In old birds the lower parts are not sulphur yellow, but white, 
with a tinge of reddish-brown on the neck and upper breast — this 
colour being very intense on the sides of the breast and the under 
tail-coverts ; none of these feathers have dark stripes along the line 
of their shafts. The edges of the feathers of the cro^vn, back, 
and wings ai'e dull rust-grey (rostgrau), those of the rump and 
the upper tail-coverts darkish, and a dingy reddish-brown ; the 
peculiar coloration and marking of the tail is similar to that of 
the early jilumage. 



314 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

127. — Grasshopper Warbler [Heuscheecken-Rohesanger]. 
SYLVIA LOCUSTELLA, Latliam.i 
Heligolandish : Bread-Stiitjed Sullen-Kr(iper= Broad-tailed Seed Warbler. 
Sylvia locustella. Naumann, iii. 701. 

Gi-asshopper Warbler. Dresser, ii. 611. 
Bee-fin Locustelle. Temminck, Manuel, i. 184, iii. 112, iv. 613. 

There is hardly a bird here which seems less restricted to a 
particular period of migration than this Reed Warbler. I have 
obtained it m March, April, May, July, August, September, and 
even repeatedly in October, though the majority naturally were 
obtained in May and August. Invariably only solitary samples are 
met with, although the bird doubtlessly occurs nuich more 
t'rcfjuently than would appear, inasmuch as it is a quiet and retired 
creature, attracting very little notice. In the sjjring one only meets 
with it in the darkest bushes where it glides about close to or on 
the ground among the lowest twigs, which are penetrated by a 
luxuriant growth of the long grass of the previous year. During 
the return migration it frequents the potato- and cabbage-plots, 
where it is seen with still greater ditficulty, and iia fact only 
accidentally. 

This bird always looks very pretty, clean and neat, especially 
when, thinking that it is being watched, it hops along in long 
bounds with its tail cocked up above its wings. Drawing under 
such conditions its feathers tightly against its body, its slender 
figure gives one the impression that its legs are much longer than 
they really are. 

The breeding range of this species appears to extend from 
England and France through Central Europe to the Ural. In the 
north it does not reach as far as the south of the Scandinavian 
peninsula. 

128. — River Warbler [FLuss-RoHRsiNGEK]. 
SYLVIA FLUVIATILIS, Wolf.^ 

Sylvia fl'Uriatilis. Naumann, iii. 694. 

Miver Warbler. Dresser, ii. 621. 

Bee-fin riverain. Temminck, Manuel, i. 183, iii. 1 1 1. 

It has not as yet been my good fortune to obtam this bird in 
Heligoland. Reymers once possessed an example shot by himself, 
but that was at a time when I had not commenced to collect on 

' Locustella navia (Bodd). " Locustella flurialilis (Wolf). 



THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 315 

scicutitic principles, and this inconspicuous bird had therefore no 
attractions for me. Clans Acuckcns saw the bird on the 9th of May 
1874 m the tields on the Upper Plateau, but it was not shy enough 
for him to be able to shoot it in such a way as to obtain it in a fit 
state for preserving. He noticed the bird a few steps in front of 
him among the potato-stalks, but on his attempting to recede to 
within shooting range it disappeared among the stalks ; while all 
attempts to shoot it on the wing failed, owing to its invariably 
alighting again within a distance of eight or ten paces each time 
after it had been flushed, and finally could neither be roused nor 
discovered again. Acuckens described it as a large, rather dark, but 
entu'ely unspotted Grasshopper Warbler, and at once recognised it 
from a skin which was shown him. 

The bi'eeding range of this species seems to embrace Eu.ssia, 
Poland, the Danube districts, and South Germany. Russow notes 
it for Livonia and Esthonia, and according to Etichner it breeds in 
the St. Petersburg Circuit — it is hence surprising that it is not 
occasionally met with in Hehgoland. The same may be said in 
regard to Sylvia duTnetorum, which, according to Blichner, also, 
and by no means rarely, breeds around St. Petersburg. It would 
thus appear that both species adhere, durmg their autumn migra- 
tion, to a strict southerly course. 



129. — Black-throated Green Warbler 

[Geuner Waldsanger]. 
SYLVICOLA VIRENS, Latham.^ 

Sylvicola vircns. Naumanti, xiii. ; Ulasias, Nachtiiige, 156. 

Black-throated Green Wood Warbler. Audubon, Sijn. N. Amer. Birds, 55. 

I must, in conclusion, introduce under a separate group another 
Warbler new to Europe, which could not well have been in- 
cluded in one of the preceding groups. In its own native country 
this bird belongs to a family very well supplied with members. 
Audubon enumerates no less than twenty-four species as be- 
longing to it. An example of this bird, Sylvicola virens, was shot 
here on the 19th of November 1858 by a boy with a blow-pipe. 
The bird in question is a fine old male in perfectly fresh well- 
preserved plumage, and represents the only mstance of the occur- 
rence of the species on this side of the Atlantic. 

The beautiful and attractive plumage of this bird is marked as 
follows : — The crown, back and rump are of a beautifid pure and 
' Dendraca cireus (Gmcliii). 



316 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

brilliant yellow olivaceous green {gelblick olivengriln); the forehead, 
a very broad cj^e-streak, and the sides of the face down to the neck 
are of a beautiful pure and rich yellow colour : the lores and ear- 
coverts are blackish intermixed with yellow ; the foi'eneck and 
upper breast are of a uniform deep velvety black, this colour beiny 
continued downward in two broad stripes along the white sides. 
The breast, belly and under tail-coverts are white, penetrated by 
a 3'ellowish sheen. The upper tail - coverts are of a very pure 
bluish grey, the same colour forming the borders of the black 
feathers of the wings and tail : in the posterior flight-feathers 
this grey passes into a greyish white, and forms two pure white 
very striking bands on the tips of the greater and lesser wing- 
coverts. The two outer pairs of tail-feathers are white, their outer 
webs being black towards the tip, and the black colour extending 
upwards along the outer side of the shaft in the form of a narrow 
sharply defined stripe : in the next pair of tail-feathers the white 
colour persists only in the form of a large white spot on the iimer 
web, and the three central pairs are entirely black. In my example, 
which was shot in autunm, the feathers of the foreneck have broad 
yellowish white edges which partially hide the black ground colour. 

In size this bird resembles a somewhat slender Wood Wren. 
Its measurements ai'C as follows : — Total length, 4'64ins. (ILS ;/(«!.); 
length of wing, 3-19 m. (81 mm.) : length of tail, 1-92 in. (49 mm.) : 
length of tail uncovered by wing, '59 in. (15 m,m.). The bill is 
strong, and measures '39 in. (10 mm.), and the tai'.sus -71 in. 
(18 mm.). 

In the construction of the wing this species differs from its 
European relatives in that the first flight-feathers are not more or 
less aborted, but in conjunction with the next feathers form the 
points of the wings : the relations being as follows : — Second and 
third flight-feathers of equal length, fourth '04 in. (1 mm.) shorter, 
and the first -04 in. (1 mm.) shorter than the fourth. The tail is 
squarely truncate, the outer pair of feathers being scarcely per- 
ceptibly shorter than the rest. 

Audubon says in regard to the distribution of this species : — 
Numerous from Texas to Newfoundland. 



Crested Wren — Rcgidiis. — The genus of these smaU, prettily 
marked birds, which one might call the Humming-bu'ds of the 
North, embraces but very few species, some of which are distin- 
guished by only very slight differences. Two of these species are 
residents on the European continent, and also visit Heligoland 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 317 

annually during both periods of migration. For America Audubon 
gives three species, one of which — BccjuIhn cnlevdula — has, — accord- 
ing to Harting, — been once shot in Scotland in the summer of 185cS. 

130. - Golden-crested Wren [GelbkOpfiges Goldhahnchen]. 
REGULUS FLAVICAPILLUS, Naumann.' 

Heligolandish : Liitj Miiiisk = ii((?c Wren. 

Begulus JlavicapiUus. Naumann, iii. 968. 

Golden-crested Wren. Dresser, ii. 453. 

Roitelet ordinaire. Teniniinck, Mawuel, i. 229, lii. 157. 

It is indeed a matter of wonderment how these tiny birds, 
apparently endowed with but poor capacity for flight, yet venture 
merrdy and cheerfully on their journey across the sea, and succeed 
in acconiplishmg it safely and happily, and that too during the 
long dark nights of October. And still further, then- migration is 
performed with perfect regularity year after year, and conducts 
them not onl}^ in hundreds, but at times in many hundreds f)f 
thousands, in one night to this island. On the following morning 
then- merry call-note resounds from the bushes and shrubs of all the 
gardens, and even the grassy plain of the Upper Plateau teems with 
them from one end to the other. The rubble, too, at the base of 
the clili' is alive with them, and they disport themselves merrily 
among the vessels and boats on the .shore, actively pursuing the 
acjuatic insects m the sea-wrack which is washed up bj- the tide, 
even to the very edge of the foaming waves. 

The migration of this little bird commences in spring, towards 
the end of March — sometimes even rather earlier — and continues to 
the end of April. The autumn migration begins with September, 
continues throughout the whole of October, and sometimes even 
extends into November. 

The bird arrives generall}- in fairly large nundicrs during the 
autmnn migration, sometimes indeed in truly astonishing quantities, 
as for instance, among other years, in 1SS2. The earliest individuals 
appeared on the 8th of September, and the migration proceeded, 
with occasional interruptions, in moderate numbers throughout the 
month; with the approach of October, however, a considerable m- 
crease in the number of migrants took place, the birds appearing 
daily in very large munbers ; and on the night of the 2Sth the 
migration assumed such vast dimensions that even an approximate 
computation of their numbers was quite out of the question. Per- 
haps the simile of a snowstorm may help to convey an idea of the 

' Reyulus cristaiux, Koch. 



318 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

scene. From ten at night till daybreak the birds sped steadily from 
east to west past the lighthouse, appearing inider the bright glare of 
the lantern like so many real snowflakes driven by the wind. By 
daybreak the whole island was literally covered with the birds, but 
by ten o'clock in the morning the majority had again proceeded on 
their journey. 

It must not, however, be assumed that a migration of this kind 
consists of a narrow stream of birds attracted by the glare of the 
lighthouse ; or that it is because Heligoland happens to lie in one of 
the supposed migration-routes ; for such is not the case. The birds 
observed hero inider these conditions were only a fraction of the 
migration-column of the species, covering a breadth from north to 
south equal to the latitudinal extent of its nesting stations. This 
is proved by the fact that, throughout the whole of October of that 
year, a similar unprecedented migi-ation of the same species, re- 
peatedly increasing to vast hordes hke those seen in Heligoland, was 
reported from all stations on the east coast of Great Britain — fi'om 
Guernsey northwards to Bressay, the central island of the Shetland 
group : representing a migration-column of nearly 680 geographical 
miles in width. 

So astonishing an accinnulation of individuals as is displayed 
by the migration phenomena of these birds could, however, only 
orieinate from a breeding area of an enormous extent, as that of the 
Golden-crested Wren realty is, extending from the north of France 
and England through central and northern Europe up to the limit of 
the pine forests, and in the same parallels of latitude through Asia 
as far as Japan. 

During the night above referred to countless numbers of these 
birds took rest on the Upper Plateau of the island, many of them 
sitting for a time on the window-bars of the lighthouse, and quite 
confidently preening their plumage in the sunny brilliance of the 
light. The night was generally overcast and very dark, like all 
prominent migration nights in autumn. 

Of how different a character is the spring migration. Imagine 
a mild and clear evening in spring : the sun has set long since, and 
the voices of all the feathered wanderers are hu.shed in sleep — the 
last soft ' pitz ' of the Redbreast has long siiice died away, and for 
some considerable space no sound has disturbed the scented still- 
ness of the air. Suddenly through the silence, like half in a dream, 
the clear fine note of our little wren is heard, and soon afterwards 
the bird is seen rising from the neighboiu-ing bushes, through the 
still luminous evening sky ; at measured intervals its call-note — ' hilt 

hiit — biit ' — is heard as it flies off, in slightly ascending spirals, 

over the neighbouring gardens ; then from every bush — here, there, 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 319 

near and far — the cry is answered, 'hiit — hiit, hiit — liiit, liiit — hiit,' in 
loud clear tones, and from all sides its travelling companions, wakened 
for the journey, rise upwards, following in the wake of the earUest 
starter — the latter, however, when the answering voices have an- 
nounced that all the sleepers are aroused, ceases circling about, and 
rises, with breast erect and brief and rapid strokes of the wings, 
almost vertically upwards ; soon all assemble in a somewhat loose 
swarm, the call-notes are silenced when the last straggler has joined 
the departing Hock, and the tiny wanderers vanish from sight. 
While we are still Ustening to their caU-notes growing fainter and 
fainter in the distance, and straining our eyes for one last look at the 
little songsters, the first faintly gleaming stars appear in their stead 
in the deep transparent aether above. Later still, as we gaze 
upwards to the night sky sown with innumerable points of light, 
we imagine that those mjriads of shining worlds arc all that moves 
between lis and the Infinite, while all the time in the heights above 
us are travelling thousands, nay, millions of living creatures towaixls 
one fixed goal — small and weak like this little wren of ours, but all 
guided as safely and surely as are the farthest gleaming stars. 

131. — Fire-crested Wren [Feuerkopfiges Goldhahnchen]. 
REGULUS IGNICAPILLUS, Naumann.i 

Heligolandish : Miiiisken-Konning = ^ir!y o/tAe Golden-crested Wrens. 
Regtdus ignicapiUns. Naumann, iii. 983. 

Fire-crested Wren. Dresser, ii. 459. 

Roifelet triple handeau. Temminck, Manuel, i. 231, iii. 15S. 

This species is a little smaller, and by reason of its black eye- 
streak, stiU somewhat more prettily marked bird than the preced- 
ing. It visits Heligoland almost as regularly as the latter, but 
invariably in very small munbers. In the spring it arrives some- 
what sooner, and in autumn somewhat later, than R.flavicapillus — 
and thus may be said in a sense to open and close the migration of 
the crested Wrens. 

This species breeds in central and southern Europe, and in 
north-west Africa : it does not advance as far north as Scandmavia, 
and reaches England only in solitary instances. (.)n the east its 
breeding range does not appear to extend to the Ural. 



Hedge-sparrow — Accentm'. — This genus comprises about twelve 
species, only two of which occur in Europe as breeding birds ; a 
third, resident in eastern Asia, A. montanellus, has on a few rare 

' IleijiUns iiinka pill H.I {(', \j. Breliin). 



320 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

occasions visited Europe. In Heligoland one of these species is a 
couinion occurrence, while the other has reached the island on a 
few occasions only. 



132. — Hedge-Sparrow [Hecken-Beuneu,f.]. 

ACCENTOR MODULARIS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Back-Kuhrn Fink = Name the signification of wliich cannot be traceil. 

Accentor modnlaris. Naumann, iii. 951. 

Hedge-Sparrow. Dresser, iii. 39. 

AccenteuT mourhet. Temniinck, Mannel, i. 249, iii. 174. 

Among the many feathered visitors of Heligoland, none displa3-s 
a more unobtrusive, amiable, and confiding disposition than this 
inconspicuous little bird. It is always a pleasure, when one is busy 
in the garden in the spruig, to see some of them close to one, un- 
disturbedly following their occupations on the ground. This love 
for human society on the part of the bird is the more striking, 
inasmuch as there appears to be but little social intercourse among 
the birds themselves: each is bent on its own pursuits, little carmg 
either for good or ill about its fellows, however close to them it may 
happen to be. It others in this respect a striking contrast to that 
equally trustful, but most pugnacious Uttle bird, the Redbreast. 

It is only when getting ready for departure that these birds come 
to associate with each other. This movement presents us with 
a most fascinating insight into the life of these harmless creatures. 
On a cahn clear spring evening, soon after sunset, one may suddenly 
see one of them fluttering up out of the bushes of some garden, 
wheeUng about hither and thither in short half-circles, and uttering 
its clear call-notes ; soon this note is repeated with a half-dreamy 
sound from all directions, and by-and-by some twenty or more of 
the birds are seen to rise round about, all uttering their call-notes 
at brief intervals, and with short and powerfid wing-strokes ascend- 
intr, breast erect, in circular and semicircular movements to and 
fro ; after reaching a height of about 200 feet above the clitf, if no 
others of their fellows follow the departing band, the call-notes are 
silenced, and the travellers rise, with a slight bend to the east, 
higher and higher, until they vanish from sight in the clear even- 
ing sky, to pursue under the canopy of the stars their tracldess 
path to the far-off nesting homes. 

The breeding area of the Hedge-Sparrow ranges throughout the 
whole of central and northern Europe, reaching n latitude of about 
70" N. in Scandinavia. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 321 

133.— Alpine Accentor [Alpen-Brunelle], 
ACCENTOR ALPINUS, GmeHn.i 

Accentor alpinus. Naumann, iii. 940. 

Alpine Accentor. Dresser, iii. 29. 

Accenieur peijot on dcs Alpes. Teiniiiinck, Manud, i. 24<S, iii. 171. 

This interesting niitive of the inountiiins lias not considered 
it beneath his dignity to leave his Alpine home in order to find a 
place in the group of distinguished visitors to little Heligoland. I 
have obtained the biixl on three occasions : two individuals in 
sprmg plumage in May 1852 and 1870, and one in autumn plumage 
in October 1862. Apart from these instances, thei'e is certain proof 
of its having been seen on two other occasions, but the birds in 
question could not be shot on account of their extraordinary shy- 
ness. 

This bird is what is laiown as a partial nugrant, performing no 
real spring or autumn migration, but moving on the approach of 
winter from its nesting-places, at heights of fi-oni 4000 to 6500 feet, 
down into the valleys, and at once returning to its mountain home 
on the cessation of cold and snow. 

Hence it is difficult to explain what could have induced the 
visitors to Heligoland — and the foiu-teen examples which, accordmg 
to Harting, have occurred in England up to 1870 — to abandon their 
lofty mountam homes, and to cross many miles of plain and ocean 
in order to get fi'om Switzerland to Heligoland, or fi'om the Pyrenees 
to England. We may perhaps assimie that these birds, as well as 
all other irregular migrants, retain a dormant migratory impulse 
capable of being aroused by unusual circumstances, and that in 
their case probably some obstacle or disturbance encountered at the 
commencement of the breeding occupations has, under the stress of 
the reproductive instinct, called forth into life the impulse to migrate 
which has conducted them from the Alps or Pyrenees to districts 
further north. This assumption is not invalidated by the fact that 
several of the birds in question were not killed till late in the year, 
for it is quite probable that they had been roving about unobserved 
during the summer months, and were not noticed till after the 
beginning of the shooting season. The Alpine Accentor nests in all 
the higher momitain ranges of Central Europe from Spain to the 
Caucasus. 

' Accentor collariK (Soop.). 



322 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Dipi^ers — Cinclus. — These birds, so peculiar in their mode of 
life, are but poorly represented in Heligoland ; this is probably 
explained by the fact that the red-breasted form, resident in 
Germany, does not pass beyond the northern limits of that country ; 
while the black-breasted Scandinavian variety leaves its breeding 
stations during the autumn migration in small numbers only, the 
latter form alone having hitherto occurred in Heligoland. The 
genus embraces about twelve species, most of which are distributed 
over the northern hemisphere. Only one of these, however, is 
resident in Europe, and is separated into three but slightly differ- 
ing varieties, viz.: Cinclus aquaticus; its northern abeiTation, C. 
melanogaster; and its southern form, C. alhicollis. Apart from 
these, the East Asiatic species, G. pallasi, has been twice observed 
in Heligoland. 



134. — Black-bellied Dipper [Wasserschmatzer]. 
CINCLUS MELANOGASTER, Brehm. 

Heligolandish : 'Wa.teT-Tioosse\= Water Thrush. 
Cinclus aquaticus. Naumann, iii. 925. 
Black-bellied Dipper. Dresser, ii. 177. 
Cinch a ventre noir. Temiiiinck, Manuel, iii. 106, iv. 609. 

During the many years of my collecting I have obtained this 
common species only five times — four old birds in full plumage, and 
one young bird in early autumn plumage, with white breast which 
still displayed the dark spots. One could hardly expect the wide 
surface of the sea to offer temporary compensation to a species which 
frequents by preference rapid and foaming moimtain-streams. Such 
of the birds as visit Hehgoland remam a few hours, which they pass 
among the rubble, stones, etc., which lie in the water at the foot of 
the cliff; they have, however, never been seen to look after food in 
the salt water which is washed up agamst that part of the shore. 

All the examples obtained belong to the northern black- 
bellied form, C. nielanocjasler (Brehm). 

In the three forms above mentioned the Dipper is a resident 
breeding bird m all mountainous regions of central, northern and 
southern Europe. The variety found in Heligoland, 6'. tnelano- 
ga.ster, nests in the Faroes and in Scandinavia up to the Waranger 
Fjord. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 323 

135.— Pallas' Dipper [Pallas' Wasserschmatzer]. 
CI^X'LUS PALLAS I, Temminck. 
Heligolijndish : Swart Water-Troossel = iB/acJ; Water Thrush. 
Stumus cinclvs. Var. Pallas, Zoogr. Ross.-Asiat., i. 426. 

Cinch de Pallas. Temminck, Manuel, i. 177. 

ill the autumn of the year 1847 a powerful niass-iiiigration of 
species froni the far East passed over Heligoland ; and on the 31st 
f)f December of that year an example of this rare visitor was seen, 
but unfortunately not shot. A uniformly and entirely dark- 
coloured Dipper was, later on, seen by Jan Aeuckens — one of the 
three brothers — sittmg, at a distance of from ten to fifteen paces from 
him, on the northern bulwark by the sea : not having a gun with 
him, he was unable to shoot the bird. A confusion of the species is 
not to be thought of in the case of experienced ornithologists like 
the three brothers Aeuckens. 

The home of this species is, accordmg to Pallas, in the countries 
around Lake Baikal, Kamtschatka, and the islands lying off its 
shores. The American species, which is also unifonnly dark- 
coloured, does not appear to be identical with the present species. 



Wren — Troglodytes. — These merry little creatures are, under 
more or less differing forms, residents in the whole northern hemi- 
sphere. It is difficult to say into how many valid species they are 
to be separated, since several species, which had been regarded as 
good, afterwards turned out to be intermediate forms between two 
species. Thus, according to Alfred Newton's view, T. boreal is of 
Iceland and the Faroes is only an intermediate form of the Euro- 
pean T. parvidus and the American T. aedon. T. hirtensis also, a 
species sustained by Seebohm for Ht. Kilda, seems not to have 
been estabUshed. Consequently Europe would possess only one 
species, which occurs abundantly in Heligoland. 

136.— Common Wren [Zaunkonig]. 

TROGLODYTES PARVULUS, Koch. 
Heligolandish : Tschiirrn. — Probably onomatopoeic, after the call-note. 
Troglodytes parvulus. Naumann, iii. 725. 
Common Wren. Dresser, iii. 219. 

Troglodite ordinaire. Temminck, Manuel, i. 233, iii. 157. 

Though perhaps the smallest of all birds resident in Europe, 
the Wren seems nevertheless to be endowed with the most imper- 



324 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

turbable good temper ; for in dull wet weather or cold snow-storms, 
when most of our feathered friends, sadly dejected in spirit and 
with feathers all awry, appear to be hopmg for better times, this 
tiny httle fellow alone flits about as cheerfully and actively as ever, 
and by its merry caU-note, and the vivacious glance of its bright 
eyes, seems to ' snap its fingers ' at all discomforts ; should, however, 
a stray gleam of sunshine penetrate the gloom of the dull winter 
day, we shall forthwith find our little friend sitting on a stone m 
front of one of the grottos at the bottom of the clitl', joyfullj^ giving 
utterance to some few strophes of its modest song. 

Although the Wren has not jet been found nesting on this 
island, it is to be met with throughout the whole year, excepting in 
the summer months, when the business of breeding keeps it away. 
In the winter it frequents the hoUows and ravines at the base of 
the cliff. 

The breeding range of this httle bird extends fi'om Portugal to 
Japan, reachmg in Scandinavia as far as 65° X. latitude. 



Stonechat — Sa.ricoln. — Despite the modest colours of the plumage 
of all members of this genus, the markings are very attractive, 
and the birds display much sprightliness and elegance m all their 
habits and movements. The genus comprises about five-and-twenty 
species, ahnost aU of which belong to southern latitudes ; only one, 
Saxicola cenanthe, — in addition to the two species, S. rubetra and 
S. rubicola, — is numerously represented as a resident breeding species 
in northern Europe, and visits Heligoland in large numbers during 
both migration periods. Besides this species, three other south 
European, one Afi'ican, and one Asiatic species, have been kiUed 
here; the two last, S. deserti and S. morio, being at that time new 
to Europe. 



137. — Common Wheatear [Gkauer Steinschmatzer]. 
SAXICOLA (ENANTHE, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Ohlen ; Ohl--wittstiit^ed= White-tailed Sto7iechat. 
Saxicola cenanthe. Naumann, iii. S63. 
Common TFheatear. Dresser, ii. 187. 
Traque moteux. Temminck, Maiiucl, i. 237, iii. 164. 

This apparently confident but nevertheless extremely cautious 
bird is distributed over the whole of Europe up to the extreme 
north, and is resident within the same parallels of latitude through- 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 325 

out the whole of Asia. As on« might expect, it is also a very 
numerous visitor to Heligoland, the island being often, especially 
durmg the connnencenient of the autunm migration, covered with 
young birds. The migration of these young birds usually commences 
at the end of July, and lasts to the middle of September — in fiivour- 
able weather the earliest arrivals frequentty make their appearance 
even much sooner ; thus in 1882 young Wheatears were seen fairly 
numerously on the night of the 7 th and Stli of July at the light- 
house. Among these early arrivals mdividuals with the light- 
bordered early plumage in still almost perfect condition are 
frequently found. The number of old birds is however very 
Umited durmg the autuum migi-ation ; with rare exceptions they 
are not seen before the beginning of October, and their migration 
lasts until about the end of November ; the birds, especially the 
later arrivals, being invariably most surprisingly fat. 

The old males which initiate the spring migration pass through 
Heligoland fi-om the middle of March to the middle of April ; in 
favourable weather they also appear earher, — thus in 1881 as early 
as the 8th, 9th and 10th of the former month. They are followed 
by the females and 3'Ounger bhds during the latter half of April 
and through May. At odd times a pair have attempted to breed 
on the island, but they have probably hardly ever aicceeded in 
rearing their 3"oung. 

These lively birds have a special preference for the rock debris 
at the foot of the chffi It is amusing to watch the thousands of 
these birds there, chasing about after each other, or actively pursuing 
aquatic insects and the like ; all of a sudden one of their number 
utters a warning cry, annoimcing the approach of a span-ow-hawk, 
which he has espied in the distance, — in a trice the whole band 
has disappeared as though it had sunk mto the earth, all the 
birds having gone into hiding under the stones. A scene of the 
most animated bustle is changed, as though by a wizard's wand, 
iato deathly stillness. However, the pause is not of long duration ; 
one by one the tiny creatures may be seen emerging cautiously 
from their hiding-places, and soon the same" frolicsome movement 
reigns agam on all sides, perhaps before very long to be once more 
interrupted in the same manner as before, Hke sunshine alternating 
with cloud on a bright day in summer. 

In autumn these birds are caught here for the table of the 
visitors who come for the sea-bathing. Formerly they were caught 
almost exclusively by some of the old pilots or fishermen, who felt 
themselves no longer equal to following their former calling on 
the mighty ocean : later on, however, when boys, still subject to 
school attendance, began to evince a neater likinsr for catchinsr 



326 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

' Ohlen ' than for theii- home lessons, the government put a tax on 

the nets, wliich had the eti'ect of restricting the capture of small 
birds within desu'able hmits. 

In the capture of Wheatears a sunple draw-net is employed. 
The birds are found in very large numbers on the upper edge of 
the clitf, and are fond of perching on small elevations : it is 
accordingly usual to heap up on that part of the island a small 
hillock, about five feet long and from eight to ten inches high ; 
parallel to this mound a net is placed, which, b}' means of a long line, 
is let down with a jerk over the hillock, and any birds which happen 
to be sitting on it. Formerly the net used to be drawTi over each 
single bird as it settled on the hillock. Recently', however, experience 
has sho\vn that if one makes use of a colony of ants in the heaping 
up of the earth, the insects and insect larva' contained in such a 
heap form such an excellent bait that one has succeeded in getting 
as many as live and even ten birds at one draw. During a very 
strong migration of Wheatears, the proceeds of one net may mount 
up to from five to ten score. As a rule, however, live score is a 
very satisfactory haul. 



138. — Black-eared Chat [Ohren-Steinschmatzek]. 
SAXICOLA AURITA, Temminck.i 

Heligolandish : Witt Ohlen = White Stonechat. 

Saxicola rufesceus. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Naclttrdge, 134. 

Black-eared Chat. Dresser, ii. 203. 

Traquet oreillard. Temminck, Manuel, i. 241, iii. 165. 

The Heligolandish name of this species is connected with the 
fact of one of the examjjles killed being an extraordinarily fine 
old male in summer plumage, in which all the upper parts are 
pure white, and in strongest contrast with the deep black sides of 
the head, wings, and tail marking. This bird was shot on the 
12th of Ma}' 1860. I had j^reviously obtained an old male, in 
very beautiful rich isabelline rust-coloured autumn plumage, on 
the 26th of October 1851. These are the only examples of this 
species hitherto observed here. It should finally be noted that 
the black marking at the tip of the tail is considerably broader 
in the autumn examples than in the bird shot in Maj' : in the 
latter this marking extends, on the outer webs of the third, fourth 
and fifth feather only, '35 in. (9 mm.) upwards, while in the former 
it extends for 71 in. (18 mm.). 

1 Saxicola aibicollix (Vieillot). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 327 

The breeding area of the Blaek-eared Chat extends throughout 
Southern EurojJC, North Africa, Asia Minor, Palestine, and Persia. 

139. — Russet Chat [Schwarzkehliger Steinschmatzer]. 
SAXICOLA STAPAZINA, Temmmck.i 

Saxicola stapaxina. Naumann, iii. 879. 

Riisset Chat. Dresser, ii. 207. 

Traquet stapazin. Temminck, Manuel, i. 239, iii. 164. 

At the begmning of the forties, before I had begun coUectuag, 
an old male of this species was shot in this island. Though the 
throat of this example was of a pure velvety black, the back and 
sides were of a fairly pronoiuiced yellowish rust colour, very similar 
to the example pictured by Naumami (Fig. 2, Plate 90). The bird 
was sold to a visitor, and I was not able to ascertain afterwards 
where it had been sent to. 

Subsequently, whitish Stoncchats witli black throats have been 
repeatedly observed here, and were for a long time considered by me 
to belong to the present species ; since that time, however, I have re- 
ceived S.deserti on several occasions, and have also become acquamted 
with S. lugens, S. libanotica, and others vi'ith. black throat and black 
markings on the upper breast, and have consequently come to the 
conclusion that the species of light-coloured Stonechats can only 
be determined if one has specimens in one's own hand. 

Though black-throated Chats have occurred here pretty fre- 
quently, only very few have been killed : this is owing to the fact 
that these birds become very shy and timid as soon as they believe 
themselves observed or pursued. If on advancing towards a Chat 
one fixes one's eyes on the bird, one will hardly ever succeed iii 
getting within shooting range of it; if one attempts the same 
manceuvre a second time after the bird has already once taken 
wmg, it will this time unfailingly fly off to a distance of from 
80 to 100 paces : while, if the pursuit is again repeated, the bird 
will be entirely lost fi-om sight. If one feels inclined to secure one 
of these birds, it is advisable to walk in a direction leading one 
some thirty paces past the bu"d, without looking at it, until one 
turns towards it for the purpose of shooting. Should the bird 
happen to be an old male, it will at once take wing ; and should 
one fail to hit, one is sure to find further pursuit long and trouble- 
some, and in most cases unsuccessfid. 

The breeding stations of this species extend from Portugal and 
north-west Africa to Greece. 

' Saxicola slaj/azina, Vieill. 



328 THE P.IHDS OF HELIGOLAND 

140. — Desert Chat [Wlsten-Steinschmatzei:]. 
SAXlC'OLxV DESERTl, Riippel. 

Desert Vhal. Dresser, ii. 215. 

Saxicola desert i. Tristram, Western Pdlestine, 33. 

Saxicola deserti. Jerdon, Birds uf India, ii. 132. 

This native uf the liot and barren desert has on three occa- 
sions emigrated from its southern home to HehooLxnd in the far 
north. The examples killed here, and preserved in my collection, 
consist of an old inale in pure autumn plumage, shot on the 4th 
of October 1S56, a female caught on the 26th of October of the 
year following, and an extraordinarily tine old male in pure breeding 
plumage, shot by C!laus Aeuckens on the 23rd of June 1880; four 
months later, on the 2(jtli of November, an old bird of this species 
was shot in Scotland, in the neighbourhood of Stirling, and there 
can be liardly any doubt that both the latter examples left their 
home at the same time and from similar motives, and that while 
followmg the direction of their spring migration, the one got no 
farther than Heligoland, while the other, by a less perilous route, 
got so much farther to the north-west. In this connection it 
should be further remarked that a huttcv^y, Faq) Hi o j)odaI irius, was 
observed here on the same day, viz. 23rd of July 1880, as the last- 
mentioned Chat, this being the second example of that species 
which had hitherto occurred in Heligoland. It, too, had probably 
been led beyond the limits of its home and across the sea by the 
fine warm weather and light south-easterly and easterly winds. 

It is siu'prising that this Chat, whose far-off home extends no 
farther than the southern shores of the Mediterranean, should have 
been observed in the north so nuich more frequently than the 
precedmg species, >S'. stapazi-na, which is found as a connnon breedmg 
bird throughout the whole of Greece. 

It would appear that, just as in autumn many species from the 
far East are inclined more than others to follow in large numbers a 
westerly hne of migration, instead of proceeding in their normal 
southerly course, so in spring many southern, and especially south- 
eastern species are, through exceptional causes, more easily induced 
to pass far beyond the limits of their breeding areas in a north - 
Avesterly cUrection. Thus the Black-headed Bunting {Emherizd 
Tnelanocephala), which likewise inhabits Greece in large numbers, 
has been killed here at least fifteen times ; while of E. cia and E. 
cirlus, which are resident not only in Greece but even in districts 
much farther north, the former has occurred here only once and 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 329 

the latter twice. Emheriza ctesia again, which is resident much 
farther south, has been killed here ten times, and the small Short- 
toed Lark {Alaiula brachydacti/la) at least fifty times. 

The Desert Chat is at once distinguished from its near black- 
throated relatives, by the tail being black almost up to the root, 
the little of white there is on it being only visible quite at the upper 
portion on the lateral feathers, while it is almost completely covered 
by the upper and under tail-coverts. Further, m the summer 
jilumage of the male, the upper parts are not pure white, as in 
>b'. stapazina, S. erythrcea, S. melanoLeuca, but of a sandy rust yellow, 
which colour is also characteristic of the autunm plumage of both 
sexes, and of that of the young birds ; there is not the least ad- 
mixture of ferruginous, in which respect also it strikingly differs 
from the soft rust colour of the autmnn plumage in 8. stapazina and 
<S'. aurita. The black markings on the head and throat, which on 
the throat of (S'. stapazina do not extend farther than the ends of the 
longest ear-feathers, in S. desert i not only occupy the whole of the 
foreneck and sides of the neck, but are prolonged on both sides of 
the upper breast down to the scapular portions of the wings. 

In spite of its very simple colours, the old male in sunmier 
plumage is a strlldngly beautiful bird. 

The measurements of the example shot here on the 23rd of 
Junel880 are as follows : — Total length, 5-94 ins. (151 mm.) ; lengthof 
wing, 3'58 ins. (91 mm.) ; length of tail, 2-60 ins. (66 mm.) ; length of 
tail uncovered by wing, -94 in. (24 mm.). The bill measures -51 in. 
(13 mm.), and the tarsus 98 in. (25 mm.). 

The breeding home of the Desert Chat extends, according to 
Tristram, from the Sahara Desert, through the desert regions of 
Egypt, Arabia and Persia, as far as India. 



141. — Eastern Pied Chat [Scheckigeu Steinschmatzek]. 
SAXICOLA MORIO, Ehrenberg.i 

Eastern Pied Ghat. Dresser, ii. 235. 

Saxicola leucomela. Tristram, Western Palestine, 35. 

Saxicola leucomela. Jerdon, Birds of India, ii. 131. 

This species, the eastern form oi Saxicola leiwomela, from which 
it is distinguished by the black undcr-sido of the wings, which are 
white in the latter species, lias been obtained by me twice on this 
island: the tirst example having been an old male in breeding 
plumage shot on the 9th of May 1867 ; the second, a beautifid old 
female, shot on the 6th of June 1882 ; the value of the latter example 

' Saxicola capi-ftrala, Gould. 



330 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

being specially enhanced in my eyes by the fact that it was shot at 
the time of Newton and Tristram's visit to me, who were thus 
enabled to examine the bird in the flesh. 

The summer plumage of the old males of this Chat is composed 
of black and white, distributed in a remarkable mamier. The sides 
of the head, the foreneck and sides of the neck, the upper breast, 
wmgs, and back are deep black ; the crown dowa to the eyes, the 
back of the neck, rump, breast, and belly, as well as the under tail- 
coverts, are pure white; the tail-feathers are likewise white with 
black spots at the tips. Of these spots, those on the outer webs of 
the outermost pair of feathers extend upwards for 119 in. (30 mm.), 
while those on the fifth pair do so only for -.59 in. (15 mm.), 
diminishing gradually from without inwardly in arcuate fashion : 
in the female the black terminal bands from the second to the fifth 
feathers have a breadth of only -20 in. (5 mm.), but on the outermost 
pair they extend upwards to the same extent as in the male. In the 
wmgs the primaries and secondaries, as well as all the greater and 
lesser Avmg-coverts are of a uniform deep black. 

The plumage of the female is not, as stated by Dresser, of similar 
colour to that of the male, but in general resembles the female of 
*S'. cenanthe ; except that in S. morio the whole under-side of the wing 
is of a miiform brownish black, lacking the lighter borders of the 
smaller plumage, and the outer surface of the wing also is of a. 
uniform brownish black ; the black terminal markings of the tail 
are shorter, though in the outermost pair of feathers they extend 
beyond half the length of the outer webs. Further, the coloration 
of the upper parts of the female of >S'. inorio is more isabelline than in 
.S'. omanthe, and the former species is moreover considerably smaller 
than the latter. The measurements of two examples shot here were 
in the freshly killed specimens as follows : — Total length, 535 ins. 
(136 mm.); length of wing, 3-34 ins. (85 mm.); length of tail, 
221 ins. (56 mm.) ; length of tail tmcovered by wings, -67 in. 
(17 mm.). The bill measures -82 in. (21 mm.), and the tarsus -94 in. 
(24'Hi«i.). 

In the closely-related species, Saxicola leucomela, the general 
distribution of the colours is the same as in *S'. morio. In the former 
species, however, the under tail-coverts are rust - coloured, and 
almost the whole of the inner webs of the primary and secondary 
quill-feathers are pure white ; moreover, the black markings of the 
outermost pair of tail-feathers do not extend further upwards than 
that of the inner feathers, so far at least as one is able to judge from 
a beautiful old male collected by Tristram in Palestine. This latter 
example is also considerably larger than the specimens of S. morio 
kiUed here, and than the skins from a collection from Cyprus and 



THE BIRDS OF HELKJOLAND 331 

Sareptii ; thus the length of the wing is 8G2 ins. (92 ram.), and 
the tarsus measures 110 in. (28 mm.). 

This Chat occurs as resident breeding species from the Caucasus 
eastwards through Persia and northern India, as far as north- 
western China. 



142. — Black Chat [Schwaezee Steinschmatzek]. 

SAXICOLA LEUCQRA, Gmel. 

Black CJiat. Dresser, ii. 247. 

Traquet rieur. Temiiiinck, Manuel, i. 236, iii. 136. 

A few weeks after the beautiful male Desert Chat referred to 
above was shot, there occurred also an old bird of the present 
species, viz. on the 11th of August 1880 ; unfortunately, although 
the bird was seen at very close quarters, it was not procured. The 
sunnner months had been attended by light easterly and southerly 
winds, with tine warm weather, consequently the year was a very 
productive one. I had shot Sylvia viridana as early as May; 
S. tristis was observed once; *S'. superciliosa five times; Anthus 
richardi frequently; Etnheriza jtusilla repeatedly: Sturniis roseus 
once : and finally, I obtained the first example of Turdus fu.'^catits 
hitherto observed here, Saxicola desevtl having been captured also 
in Scotland during the same autumn. 

It is inqiossible to say how many other birds may have 
escaped observation at a time like that; for we can never accept 
that the birds enmnerated above comprised all that had during 
that summer, — owing to sjiecial circumstances, — wandered to such 
a distance beyond the domains of their normal migration ; I my- 
self feel convinced that such material as comes under observation 
forms only a small fraction of what is really abroad under these 
conditions ; indeed, I have frequently expressed myseK as ready to 
exchange the whole of my collection, wonderful as it is, for aU the 
birds which have occurred here without having been seen or killed, 
if that were possible ; the only reservation Avhich I would make in 
this exchange being the splendid example of Larus rossii, of which 
I am the fortunate owner. 

The Black Chat is a western species, nesting in Portugal, Spam, 
and the south of France, and advancmg to Italy and Greece only in 
solitary instances ; the example observed here no doubt originated 
from the latter country, inasmuch as western and even southern 
species hardly ever reach this island. 



332 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

143. — Whin Chat [Braunkehliger Wiesenschmatzek]. 
SAXICOLA RUBETRA, Linn-i 

Heligolandish : Kapper ; name for Chat. 

tia.ricola rubetra. Naumann, iii. 903. 

Whhi Chat. Dresser, ii. 255. 

Traquet tarinr. Temminck, Manud, i. 244, iii. 164. 

Warmth seems to be a condition specially necessary to the life 
of this little bird, since in spring it never makes its appearance 
before the weather has become settled, warm, and tine, in the first 
or second week in May ; similarly it departs as early as Angiist 
before the least noticeable fall of temperature has taken place. 
During the spring migration the birds principally frequent the 
gardens of the island, where they perch on the end of almost every 
bare twig, flying upwards from these almost perpendicularly in 
pursuit of any msects that may happen to be roaming above theni^ 
and then redescending to the same twig with a slight and graceful 
turn. During its passage in August and the beginning of Septem- 
ber, the birds by preference resort to the potato-fields, which on 
calm warm days literally teem with them. In spring also, however, 
the bird may be counted among the most numerous visitors to the 
island. 

The breeding home of this species extends through central and 
northern Europe to beyond the Arctic Circle. The western range 
of its breedmg stations in Asia aj^pears not to be definitely estab- 
lished ; they must, however, exteiid to the longitude of Turkestan, 
inasmuch as Sewertzoff cites this bird both as a breedmg species 
and a bird of passage for the latter coimtr}-. 

144. — Stone Chat [Schwarzkehligek Wiesenschmatzek]. 
SAXICOLA RUBICOLA, Lmn.^ 

Heligolandish : Swart-boaded Kapper = i)?(icA'-/icarferf Chat. 

Saxicola rubicola. Naumann, iii. SS4. 

Stone Chat. Dres.ser, ii. 263. 

Traquet rubicoU. Temminck, Manuel, i. 246, iii. 16S. 

Quite contrary to the preceding closely related species, the 
Stone Chat starts on its journey for the nesting stations when 
winter has hardly yet departed, viz. durmg the first days of March, 
and sometimes even, as in 1882, as early as the 26th and 27th 
of February. It occurs, invariably, only in isolated instances, it 

' Pralincola rubetra {hiun.). - Pratincola rubicola {Linn.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 333 

being rare to see more than two or three individuals in one day ; 
though this number is sHghtly increased during the autumn migra- 
tion, the species can only be described as an extremely isolated 
occurrence for Heligoland. 

On the 11th of October 1883 1 obtained an example of this species, 
which, in its general colouring, differs so widely from the. blackish- 
red bro\\Ti {schwdrzlich rothbraun) autumn plumage of this bird, 
that it resembles more a young S. ruhdra than a <S'. ruhicola ; on 
the whole, however, it is of a considerably lighter isabellme colour 
than the former species, and has its rump isabelline without spots. 

It is probably not what is known as a pale yellow variety, such 
as one finds among nearl}' all bird-species, but has all the characters 
of a normally coloured bird ; and Aeuckens, who shot it, would 
not renounce the opinion that he had killed a gi'eat rarity. The 
uniformly coloured blackish-brown tail, and the unspotted rump, 
however, leave no doubt as to the position of this example. 

The species is a resident breeding bird from Portugal to China 
and Japan ; it does not appear to extend beyond the latitude of 
northern Germany, except in small numbers, for it is of very rare 
occurrence in Denmark and the south of the Scandinavian peninsula. 



Wagtail — MotaciUa. — The Wagtails are distributed over the 
Old World, including about thirty species, containing large numbers 
of individuals; seven of these are resident in Europe, and visit Heligo- 
land in more or less considerable numbers. In regard to their figure, 
the markmgs of their plumage, as well as their general bearing and 
habits, these birds may be regarded as the most elegant of all the 
species inhabiting Europe. 

145. — White Wagtail [Weisse Bachstelze]. 
MOTACILLA ALBA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Blu Lungen = Blue Long one. Lung is the Heligolandish 
for Long, and is a very descriptive designation as a generic name for the 
true Wagtails. 

MotaciUa alba. Naumann, iii. S03. 

White Wagtail. Dresser, iii. 233. 

Bergeronnette grise. Temminck, Manuel, i. 255, iii. 178. 

The White Wagtail is one of the few birds which now and again 
make an attempt to breed on this island ; that this does not happen 
more frequently is probably due to the ivant of fresh water ; for 
although, during the winter months, a fairly large quantity of water 



334 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

collects in a primitive kind of reservoir on the Upper Plateau, 
this nearly always, through trickling into the gi-ound, or by evapo- 
ration, has disappeared by May ; hence, small birds which stay 
here durmg the summer, find nowhere water for drinking or bath- 
ing, and have to fall back upon the dew of the early mornmg, 
which is itself but of rare occiu-rence. 

A pair of these birds, some years ago, by their call and general 
bearing, gave evidence of their intention to nest on the island : 
accordingly I kept a large dish constantly tilled with water in my 
garden, and had the pleasure of seeing at first the old birds, and 
afterwards the gro^vn-up young, daily drinking and bathing in it. 

The White Wagtail occurs as breeding species from the Pyrenees 
to Lake Baikal. 



146. — Pied "Wagtail [Trauer-Bachstelze]. 
MOTACILLA LUGUBRIS, Temmmck. 

Heligolandish : Swart-rcigged Lungen = £/f(fi-i(icied Wagtail. 
Motacilla YarrelH. Naumann xiii.; B\ni'ms, Nachtrdge, 114. 
Pied Wagtail. Dresser, iii. 239. 

Bergeronnette lugubre. Temminck, Manuel, i. 253, iii. 75. 

Of the small species of insect-eating birds this beautifid Wagtail 
is the iirst to commence the spring migration, as soon as winter has 
disappeared. The earhest arrivals appear almost regularly at the 
end of February, and fine males in fidl adidt plumage have been 
repeatedly killed on the 24th of the month. 

The White Wagtail, mvariably, does not make its appearance 
until a few weeks later ; and at the time when its migration is at 
its height, that of the Pied Wagtail has already almost ceased, its 
miiTration rarely extending beyond March. Strange to say, this 
bird is hardly ever met with here during its return movement in 
autumn ; man}' years ago I obtained a fine old example in winter 
plumage, and since that time young autumn birds have been shot 
on three or four occasions only. 

This Wagtail offers the most excellent material for observing 
the change of colours in the plumage by re-coloi-ation without 
moultmf' any of the feathers, characteristic of many birds during 
spring, inasmuch as it displays distinctly two out of the many 
diiferent ways m which this process is accomplished. The feathers 
of the back of this bird turn at this season from a duU grey 
to a brilliant silky black, and the snow-white portions of the 
throat and neck likewise assume a pure and brilliant black colour. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 335 

111 the first case, this is effected by the peeling off of the inconspicu- 
ously coloured envelopes of the barbs and barbicels of the winter 
plumage, as has been treated of m further detail in Part i. of 
this work, whereby the handsomer colour of the breeding plumage 
concealed below is exposed. In the other case, however, this 
change of coloration is effected in a manner which can only be 
ascertained by the help of microscopic examination ; the black at 
the lower margin of the white feathers making its appearance in 
the form of a very fine, scarcely perceptible edge, which, gradually 
widening, finally covers the whole surface of the feather. This 
process starts at the black collar encircling the upper breast hi 
the winter plumage, and thence extends upwards to the last small 
feathers of the chin. A similar alteration in colour from white to 
black takes place in the same manner in the small black-headed 
Gull {Lams minutus). 

The breeding range of this species appears to be almost exclu- 
sively confined to Great Britain and its island groups, including 
St. Kilda. Seebohm says that it nests occasionally in Holland, 
more numerously in north-western France, and in solitary instances 
in the south-west of Norway, to the last of which probably also 
belong those individuals of this species which are met with in 
Heligoland. Now, though these latter appear here only sparingly 
— from three to five at most on some days m March — it is quite 
probable, presupposing they are on the way to migrate to Norway, 
that the birds breed in the latter country more numerously than 
one suspects. 



147. — Grey Wagtail [Gkaue Bachstelze]. 
MOTACILLA SULPHUKEA, Bechstein.i 

Heligolandish : Giihl Lungen= Yellow Wac/tail. 
Motacilla sulphured. Naumann, iii. 824. 
Grey Wagtail. Dresser, iii. 251. 

Bergeronette jatine. Temniinck, Manuel, i. 257, iii. 179. 

This extremely elegant and graceful bird should really occupy 
the first place among all its congeners, for in it the ideal form of Wag- 
tail reaches its highest expression. I shall ever keep fresh within 
my memory a scene depicted before me during one pleasant hour 
of summer on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands, in which 
a family of these birds formed the living accessories. I was sitting 
with my sketch-book in a narrow rock-valley of the pictiu'esquc 
' Motacilla mdanopt (Pall.). 



336 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Isle of Arran. From its source, three thousand feet above, a 
mountain rivulet was hastening to the sea in manifold windings, 
and with many leaps and tumbles, contracted in one place into 
narrow channels bubbling over with light foam, widened m 
another part, formmg crystal-clear shady pools, rich in salmon. 
Throughout the bed of the stream and along its banks were 
scattered fragments of rock, overgrown with moss, and covered 
with a profusion of the most lovely ferns, varying in size from 
a span's length to a man's height, and surpassing each other 
in freshness and beauty, and in the gracefid shape and bend- 
ings of their fronds. This scene, in which patches of deep scent- 
laden shadow alternated with bands of brilliant sunlight, was 
enlivened by the busy doings of a family of Grey Wagtails, consist- 
ing of the parents and live young ones. At one instant a bird 
might be seen runnmg over some broad slab of rock in hasty pursuit 
of an msect; at another, chasing one for a short distance in rapid 
flight ; here one would settle for a moment on a bit of rock lymg 
in the bed of the stream, only to quit it immediately for some spot 
by the edge, fi'om which the water had for the moment receded. 
Now and again one or another of the birds woidd stop for an 
instant to cast a searching glance at the silent stranger who was 
watching its movements, but, without further heeding his presence, 
would immediately return to its former occupations. 

P'or an hour I gave myself uj) to the enjoyment of this fascinat- 
ing insight into the silent workings of nature — the little creatiu'es 
sometimes approaching to within a few paces from my feet, and 
subsequently retiring again to some distance. I seized upon one 
of these latter moments for withdrawmg, without disturbing these 
trustful little beings. It needed, however, a powerful eftbrt to turn 
away from this charming scene, which even now, after thirty years, 
is as fresh before my eyes as if I had just left it; whilst the roar 
and rush of Knockan Burn seems still to linger in my ears. 

This bird is an extremely rare visitor to Heligoland, occurring 
perhaps once at intervals of five years ; old birds being more fre- 
quent than young ones, and always appearing early in the year — 
somewhere about the first half of March. This rare occurrence is 
explicable from the distribution of the breeding stations of this 
species, which, although they extend from Portugal through 
central and southern Europe and Asia to Japan, do not stretch 
beyond the northern boundaries of German3\ Scattered indivi- 
duals are also found nesting in Great Britain, especially in Ireland 
and the west of Scotland, owmg to the moderating influence of the 
Gulf Stream. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 337 

148. — Yellow-headed Wagtail [Gelbkopfige Baciistelze]. 
MOTACILLA CITREOLA, Pallas. 

Motacilla citreola. Nauuiann, xiii. ; BVAsins, Nachtrcige, 117. 

Yellow-headed Wagtail, Dresser, iii. 245. 

Bergeronnette citrine. Temminck, Manuel, i. 259, iii. 180. 

Although the westerly limit of the breeding range of this 
beautiful Wagtail extends to the most north-easterly portion of 
European Russia, where Secbohm and Harvie-Brown met with it 
nest ing numerously from latitude 66° to 68° N., I have nevertheless 
met with it in Heligoland only five times within the long 
space of forty years ; nor does this species, with the exception of 
these examples, appear to have occurred anywhere else west of its 
breeding range as above defined ; therefore it would seem, hke the 
rest of its genus, to adhere in its migration to a strictly north-to- 
south line of flight. AU the examples shot here are young birds 
in the early autumn plumage; they arc very like individuals of 
Mot((ciUa alba of the same age, but are at once distinguished by 
the absence of the black circular collar on the upper breast, and by 
their long spur. In most examples the upper as well as the lower 
parts have a tinge of olivaceous green ; m the first of my examples, 
however, which I obtained here on the 26th of September 1848, 
this olivaceous colour is entirely absent, the bird being pure ash- 
grey and white, and exactly resembling Sturm's representation 
(Naumann, xiii., pi. 377, fig. 4), except that the crown of the head 
and the forehead are not as Avhite as they are figured there ; in fact, 
in none of my examples is the forehead so light-coloured. The 
last of the bhds of this species which has occurred here is the 
largest and handsomest in my possession, and was shot on the 
28th of December 1886 ; all the upper parts and the sides of the 
>ipper breast are very dark grey, almost blackish grey, the sides 
being of somewhat lighter grey. AU the lower parts are white, the 
under tail-coverts being pure white, while the throat, foreneck, and 
mid-breast, and especially the sides of the face and the white eye- 
streaks, are shot with pale lemon yellow. The wing- and tail-feathers 
are black ; the secondary quill-feathers, and especially the three 
posterior fiight-fcathers, have broad white outer edges, as is also the 
case with the greater and middle wing-coverts, which, moreover, 
have broad white tips, forming two very striking bands across 
the wmg. In the tail the outermost feathers are pure white, 
the second pair of the same colour, with black wedge-shaped stripes 
on the inner webs, which are broadest towards the bases of the 

Y 



338 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

feathers and end pointedly below ; by their sides a second series of 
fine streaks run m the line of the shafts down to the lower third 
of the feathers. 

The measurements of this example are as follows : — Total 
length, 6-89 ins. (175 mm.); length of wmg, 3-32 ins. (85 mm.); 
length of tail, 3-19 ins. (81 vim.) ; length of tail uncovered by wings, 
1-96 in. (50 mm.). The nail of the posterior toe is -47 in. (12 mvi.) 
long. 

The breeding stations of this species extend fi-om the Petchora 
eastwards to the Pacific Ocean. A''on Middendorff found it nesting 
at the Boganida up to 71° N. latitude. 



149. — Blue-headed Wagtail [Plaukopfige Bachstelze]. 
MOTACILLA FLAVA, Limi. 

Heligolandish : Blii-hoaded GiiUhlnhhex = Blue-headed Wagtail. 

Giihlblabber is the Heligolandish name for the genus of this and 

the next two species of Wagtails, and signifies something very 

yellow. 
Motacilla Jlava. Naumann, iii. 839. 

Blue-headed Wagtail. Dresser, iii. 261. 

Bergeronnetle printanicre. Temminck, Manuel, i. 260, iii. 181, iv. 622. 

This pretty little bird is numerously distributed as a breeding 
species not only from the most western parts of Europe to the most 
eastern parts of Asia, but also across the Pacific Ocean from the west 
coast of America to the Rocky Mountains. As one might expect, it 
also visits Heligoland in very large numbers during both migration 
periods — though naturally its numbers are mcomparably larger in 
autumn than in spring ; but even durmg the latter season, if the 
weather is tolerably favourable, flocks of hundreds may be seen 
covering the sheep pastures. 

This bird is of rare occurrence in England as well as in 
southern Norway ; in southern Sweden as far north as Stockholm, 
it is, however, a fairly common breeding species. Accordingly, 
the innumerable quantities which touch on Heligoland during 
the autumn migration cannot originate from regions more or less 
to the north of the island, but nmst get to Heligoland by an 
east-to-west route, differing in this respect from their congeners 
which have been treated of hitherto. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 339 

150. — Black-headed Wagtail [Schwarzkopfige 
Bachstklzk]. 

MOTACILLA MELANOCEPHALA, Lichtenstein. 

Heligolandish : Swart-hoaded GiihttAahheT =Black-headed Wagtail. 

Motacilla melanocephala. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtrage, 125. 
Black-headed Wagtail. Dresser, niflanocephala, iii. 273 ; viridis, 269. 
Motacilla melanocephala. Teiniuiuck, Manuel, iv. 623. 

From the examples of this species to be found in Heh'goland 
annually during the spring migration it is impossible to divide the 
yellow Wagtails without white eye-streak into gi'ey and black-headed 
sub-species, for among the males one meets with every gradation 
of head colouring, from a dark blue slate grey to a pure brilliant 
black. In the latter individuals, at the time of their arrival, 
the whole of the crown of the head down to the neck, the sides of 
the head and neck as far as the back, are of a pure brilliant black. 
The occiput is covered by a mixture of broadly barbed, slaty-black, 
more- or less-worn feathers of the winter plumage, and silky 
brilliant pure black feathers which have been renovated by altera- 
tion of colour. This can be very well seen if, under a moderate 
magnifying power, one passes a piece of white paper under some of 
the separate feathers. Undoubtedly all the feathers of the hinder 
part of the neck have undergone this re-coloration by the time 
the birds have reached their nesting stations, so that the birds are 
then of a uniform black from the forehead do^vn to the back. 

Beautiful black examples of this kind are, however, met with 
only in solitary instances, and almost always among the earliest 
arrivals of the spring migration, — these being doubtless the oldest 
males. In such birds the foreneck is at that time also pure 
yellow up to the last small feathers on the bill ; a white chin I 
have observed only in the case of later arrivals, these being birds 
of less age, in which the crown of the head was invariably 
of lighter or darker slaty-blackish grey, and in which the change 
of colour to a pure black had made only a slight advance from 
the forehead. 

It is surprising that investigators Avho visited the northern 
breeding stations of this species appear not to have met with old 
black-headed males like these, since their regular occurrence in 
Heligoland during the spring migration proves that they must be 
represented in the former districts also ; further, it seems unintel- 
ligible why they should be resident in northern and southern 



340 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

latitudes but not within the very broad belt intermediate between 
these. 

Several authors make note of indications of white eye-stripes 
in the Black-headed AVagtails. These, however, would seem to be 
rare ; for among the numerous examples obtained here during the 
long period of fifty years, I have scarcely met with more than two . 
or three birds which displayed from three to four small white 
feathers, for the most part on one side of the head only. The only 
conclusion which it seems to me permissible to draw from this 
circumstance is that inter-breeding must sometimes, even if only 
extremely rarely, take place between this species and M. flava, 
resulting in the production of mongrels having the last-named 
peculiarity. Frequently, also, one finds among both species fine old 
males having on the occiput scattered yellow feathers intermingled 
with the normally coloured ones ; these, however, must be regarded 
as merely accidental features. In individuals of this kind the yellow 
colour of the lower parts is almost invariably of very great 
intensity. 

The individuals of this species, which it has been thought 
fit to separate under the name of M. viridis = cinereoccqyilla, 
breed from central to upper Scandinavia, and within the same 
parallels of latitude as far as eastern Asia. In a few old males of 
these the crown of the head is of a slaty-blue grey. Of those 
nesting in Italy, Greece, and as far as Turkestan, the males are 
said invariably to have the crown perfectly black in the breeding 
plumage. 

Another black-headed species, in which the males however have 
a pure white eye-streak is, according to Blasius (Supplement to 
Naumann), resident in soutliern Kussia and Dalmatia, and has 
been shot by Finsch on the Obi. 



151. — Yellow Wagtail [Grunkopfige Bachstelze]. 

MOTACILLA KAYl, Bonaparte.' 

Heligolandish : Giihl-hoaded GnbXblahheT = Ydlow-headed Wagtail. 

Motacilla flaveola. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtriige, 129. 

Yellow Wagtail. Dresser, iii. 277. 

Bergeronnetteflaveole. Temminck, Manuel, iii. 1S3. 

This handsome Wagtail arrives here with every sjjring migration; 
for the most part, however, only single individuals are met with, — 
three or more on the same day being an exceptional occurrence. 
Their migration commences very early ; one might almost say that 

J MolaciUa rail, Bp, 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 3-il 

they commence the spring migration of this particular group of Wag- 
tails, for they appear almost invariably, in company with the first 
old males of J/. Jlaua, about the beginning of the last ten days of 
April, if the weather is warm. The migration of the latter species, 
however, extends into June, while M. rayl is rarely met with later 
than the middle of ilay. M. raelanocephala is the last to 
arrive here, never making its ajjpearance before the end of 
May, accompanied by stragglers of M. Jiava. From this late 
migration we may conclude that the home of the individuals 
passuig here is a far northern one. It is, however, incomprehen- 
sible where the members of M. ro.yi, touching on Heligoland, 
may get to ; their only likely goal would appear to be the south of 
Scandinavia. Dresser, however, states that they are not met with 
in the latter district. 

The nesting range of this species, so far as this has been 
ascertained, is very limited in extent, and scarcely stretches beyond 
England, Scotland, and portions of northern France. The bhd 
has not been found to breed in the rest of Europe, but, strange to 
say, is again met with as breeding bird on the lower Volga, and in 
western Turkestan. Aeuckens has twice found the nest of this 
Wagtail in Hehgoland, the first in a potato-plot, the second in 
long grass. In both cases the birds hatched then- eggs and reared 
their young. 



Pipit — AntJais. — This genus includes, according to Seebohm, 
about forty species, which are distributed over almost all the 
known parts of the earth. They are birds of inconspicuous 
external appearance and modest demeanour. Six of the genus 
are resident breeding species in Europe, with which two others are 
associated as rare visitors : viz. Antlius richardi, from the far east 
of Asia, and A. liulovicianun, from North America. All of these 
occur in Heligoland. 



D 



152. — Water Pipit [Wasserpiepeu]. 
ANTHUS AQUATICUS, Bechstein.i 

Anthus aquatieus. Naumann, iii. 789. 

Water Pipit. Dresser, iii. 335. 

Pipit spionceUe. Temminck, Manuel, i. 265, iii. 187, iv. 623. 

This Pipit is, like all other Alpine residents, a very rare visitor 
to Heligoland ; so far as I have been able to determine, it has only 

' AtUhus epipoletta {hinn.). 



342 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

occurred twice. On one of these occasions it was obtained by 
Reymers : on the other it came within the sphere of my own 
observation. In England it has been killed three or four times, 
and is said also to occur pretty frequently in Denmark. 

The breeding range of this species extends through all the 
mountainous districts of Europe and Asia, where the bird is found 
to nest at heights of from eight to ten thousand feet, though 
occasionally also in less elevated situations, as for instance at the 
foot of the Riesengebirge in Silesia. 



153. — Rock Pipit [FELSENPiErEit]. 
ANTHUS RUPESTRIS, Nilsson.i 

Heligolandish : Tung-Harrofs. Harrofs being the name for Pipit, 
and therefore =rftH!7 Piint. 

Anthus rupestris. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtrdge, io8. 

Rock Pijdf. Dresser, iii. 343. 

Pi2]it obscur. Temminck, Manncl, iv. 62S. 

We may describe the Rock Pipit as the best-kno\\Ti bnd in 
Heligoland, partly because it is one of the few birds which, with 
the exception of the summer months, remain the whole year ; 
partly because it chiefly, or almost exclusively, frequents that part 
of the island where the population is prmcipally occupied, — to wit, 
the shore. 

It is surprising that this bird has never yet made an attempt to 
breed on the island, seeing that the grass-grown prominences of 
the east side of the rock are apparently as well adapted for this 
object as those which it frequents by preference in other places ; 
and further, since it is a fairly common breeding bird on the 
opposite coast of England. The cause may possibly be traceable 
to the lack of fresh water here, which is especially felt during the 
nesting season. 

The bird is a solitary, serious creature, little caring for the 
society either of members of its own or of other species. Wliile 
searching for food, it walks step by step, only rarely at an accele- 
rated pace, over the sea-tang on the shore, or on the rocks and 
iUhris exposed at low tide at the base of the cliff. It utters its 
call-note only when taldng to flight, a single call repeated after 
rather long pauses. The note is deeper and longer drawn than 
that of the Meadow Pipit, and has an agreeable sound, by no means 

' Anthus ohscurus (Latham). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 343 

harsh, Uke that of the Tree Pipit ; if the bird is suddenly surprised, 
it often in fl.)'ing away utters its call two or three times in succes- 
cession. It is by no means a shy bird, and never flies very far ; if 
repeatedly disturbed while busy at the foot of the cliff, it flits from 
one piece of rock to another, never more than fifteen or twenty 
paces at a time, finally perching on a prominence half way up the 
face of the cliff, where it will quietly wait until one has passed along 
underneath it, after which it will resume its occupation on the shore. 

Whether one meets it on a fine spring morning, while 
cautiously pursuing the Woodcock, or on dull cold winter after- 
noons, amid blinding snow, whilst one is watchmg for northern 
Ducks, Geese, and Swans, the bird always displays the same 
demeanour, showing no signs either of comfort or distress ; but, 
solitary, serious and active, and without displaying any particular 
shyness in regard to man, it performs the various functions of its 
daily existence. 

The winter plumage of this Pipit is very dull and inconspicuous; 
all the upper parts are dull olivaceous green (olivenschwdrzlich), 
the lower parts dull olivaceous sulphur yellow ; the neck, npper 
breast, and sides being strongly clouded with the colour of the 
back. In the summer plumage, which the bird acquires by altera- 
tion of colours (as distinct from moulting), the head, back of the 
neck as far as the back, and down to the sides of the upper 
breast, are greenish grey, not olivaceous grey, the blackish feathers 
of the back having broad obscure edges of the same colour ; the 
throat, sides of the neck and upper breast as far down as the breast, 
are of a dull reddish colour, as though composed of a mixture of 
rust-colour and pink ; the feathers of the sides have broad obscure 
streaks of the colour of the back. In females and younger males 
the head is neither of so pure a grey, nor does the reddish colour 
so much incline to pink as in the old males, which are sometimes 
of an almost ^anous red. 

Neither in the winter nor summer plumage of this species is 
there anywhere any display of pure white. There is a very obscure 
dull greyish brown wedge-shaped patch on the outermost pair of 
tail-feathers, and a small mark of similar colour on the tip of the 
next pair ; in the Water Pipit these markings are, as is well known, 
pure white, and the upper parts are more decided greyish brown, 
with a hardly perceptible greenish hue in the winter plumage. 

The Rock Pipit, which might also appropriately be called Sea 
Pipit, breeds on all the rocky shores of northern Europe, including 
northern France, Great Britain, with the Hebrides, Shetland and 
Orkney Islands, on the Faroes, and on the coasts and islands of the 
Scandinavian Peninsula. 



344 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

154. — American Pipit [Amerikanischeb Pieper]. 
ANTHUS LUDOYICIANUS, Gmeliu.i 

Anthus ludovicianus. Nauuiaun, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtniyc, in. 

Fennsylvanian Pipit. Dresser, iii. 331. 

American Pipit. Audubon, >S)//t. of Birds of North Amer., 94. 

This is another species which, iu virtue of two examples killed 
in Heligoland, has acquired the right of honorary citizenship of 
Europe. The first of these birds was shot on the (ith of November 
1851 by a native gunner, whose attention was attracted by the, to 
him, unknown call-note of the bird. It was an individual in fresh 
autumn plumage. The second was killed on the I7th of May 
1858 by the merest accident. A boy begged a shooter to let him 
fire a shot from his gun ; he pointed the latter at one of the many 
Pipits that were running about, killing one which proved to be a 
female of this species in beautiful spring plumage. Hitherto no 
other instance of the occurrence of this species in Europe has been 
made known. It was believed to have been obtained in England, 
but all such examples turned out to be Kock Pipits. 

According to Audubon, this bird breeds very numerously in 
Labrador and the Hud.son Bay Territory (fur countries). An 
example was shot, during the Vega Expedition, on the Tchukchi 
Peninsula on the 10th June 1879. 

155. — Meadow Pipit [Wirsenpiepek]. 
ANTHUS PRATENSIS, Bechstein.^ 

Heligolandish : Liitj 'H.a,rTo{a = Little Pijnt. 

Antlms prateyisis. Naumann, iii. 774. 

Meadow Pipit. Dresser, iii. 2S5. 

Pipit farlouse. Temminck, itfanwe?, i. 269, iii. 190, \w. 635. 

This little Pipit sj^ecially belongs to those species which 
are most numerously, and during the greater part of the year, 
represented in Heligoland. In 1885 its migration commenced as 
early as the 24th of February, and lasted, not counting solitary 
stragglers, until the 20th of ISIay. It returns on the autunui 
migration as early as the end of August ; it is of very frequent 
occurrence during September, and appears in the course of October 
often in quite incredible quantities, frequenting then chiefly the 
fields and grass-plots of the Upper Plateau. Throughout November 

' Anlhus pensilvanicus CLsX'ha.ra). " Anlhus pralensis (Liim.). 



THE BIRDS OF IIELICOLAND 345 

small compauics of these birds are seen on the shore, and though 
they depart with the advent of wintry weather, a few solitary 
individuals nevertheless almost invariably stay behind — appearing 
to find sufficient food, even at that season, among the sea-wrack on 
the shore. This species breeds numerously from France, north- 
wards to Iceland, and from Germany northwards through the 
wliole of the Scandinavian Peninsula to the North Cape ; how far 
its nesting range extends eastwards beyond the Ural has not been 
determined; but, according to Sewertzoft', the bird is a migrant 
throughout the whole of Turkestan. 



156. — Red-throated Pipit [Kothicehliger Piepeu]. 

ANTHUS CERVINUS, Pallas. 

Heligolandish : Koadhalssed Haxroh = Red-necked Pipit. 

Anthus jiratensis. Naumann, iii. 777, PI. 85, Fig. i.; Blasius, Kachtrage,ciy. 

Red-throated Pipit. Dresser, iii. 299. 

Pipit a Gorge roxisse. Temminck, Manuel, iii. 192. 

I obtained the first example of this Pipit on the island on the 
2Sth of September 18.54, and the second on the 20th of September 
18,57. Soon after, Claus Aeuckens learned its call-note, and 
in consequence managed to see, and frequently shoot, one or 
other of the.se birds almost regularly every autumn. In 1884 they 
occiu-red here in unexampled frequency ; from the loth to the 
30th of September thirteen examples were seen, and for the most 
part shot, on some days as many as three examples. Nevertheless, 
the birds can only be counted as rare occurrences in Heligoland, 
which is the more surprising, as they are very numerous in the 
north of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Evidently the migration of 
this species, like that of many others resident in that locality, must 
proceed in a rigidly north-to-south direction, a slight westerly devi- 
ation taking place only in very excejitional cases in autumn, for I 
have never obtained this bird here in spring. The tirst of the 
above-mentioned examples was an old male in fresh autumn 
plumage, which is specially distinguished from the spring jilumago 
in that the eye-streak, foreneck, and sides of the neck, together with 
the greater part of the upper breast, are not of a beautiful rust- 
colour but of a vinous red colour without spots, the beautiful rich 
olivaceous brown {Oliren-Rostorange) first making its appearance on 
the sides of the breast. The example was brought to me as a ' red- 
throated Tree Pipit,' which species it in reality resembles, especially 
in the fresh condition, much moi-e than a Meadow Pipit. Its call- 



346 THE BIRDS OF HELIC40LAND 

note, too, is much more like that of tlie former than that of the 
latter species ; while its eggs also in a high degree resemble some 
of those of the Tree Pipit, but have nothing in common with 
those of the Meadow Pipit. It is distinguished, however, from both 
these species by the almost black broad central marking of the 
largest pair of the under tail-coverts, which in the other species 
in question are of a uniform whitish rust-colour. The breeding 
range of this Pipit extends from Finmark to Kamtschatka ; Von 
Middendorff found it on the Boganida in 71° N. latitude. 



157. — Tree Pipit [Baumpieper]. 
ANTHUS ARBOREUS, Brisson.i 

HfligolandisL : Pie-H:irrofs. Name onomatopcbic, after the call-note. 

Anthus arboreus. Naumann, iii. 758. 

Tree Pipit. Dresser, iii. 309. 

Pijnt des huissons, Temmiuck, Manuel, i. 271, iii. 194. 

This is one of the few birds which have attempted to breed 
here ; unfortunately the attempt was unsuccessful, for the nest with 
four eggs of the type mth brown spots like burnt marks, was des- 
troyed by cats ; it had been placed against a large tuft of grass in 
the middle of a large hedged-in grass-plot, about a hundred paces 
in diameter, which adjoins my garden, and was protected agamst 
every j^ossible disturbance by human hand. 

This bird is a common migratory species in Heligoland, but it 
never makes its appearance imtil really warm weather has set in, 
u.sualty not imtil about the end of April, being in such cases a daily 
visitor throughout Maj'. It begins to pass through on its return 
passage about the middle of August, and up to the last week in 
September, in large niunbcrs. During both periods of migration it 
is accompanied regularly by the Ortolan Bunting. 

This species breeds very numerously in central and northern 
Europe and Asia, from the PjTenees to Kamtschatka, but does not 
advance beyond the Polar Circle, except in places here and there. 

' Anthus triinalis (Linn.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 347 

158. — Tawny Pipit [Brachpieper]. 
ANTHUS CAMPESTRIS, Brisson.^ 

Heligolandish : Liitj Hviel = Small Richard's Pipit. 

Aiithus camjMstris. Naumann, iii. 745. 

Taiony Pipit. Dresser, iii. 3 1 7. 

Pipit rousseline. Temminck, Manuel, i. 267, iii. 289. 

The Ta-\vny Pipit visits Heligoland in very small numbers ; only 
now and again may a solitary example be met with on a fine warm 
afternoon in May or August. Hardly more than three or four of 
the birds are shot in the course of a year, though perhaps double 
the number, certainly not more, may occur within that time. 

This species breeds in Spain, France, Germany ; and withm about 
the same parallels of latitude as far as China. In England only 
solitary examples have occurred. In Denmark it is very rare, 
though it is said to nest pretty frequently in lower Sweden. 

159. — Richard's Pipit [Pjchardspieper]. 

ANTHUS RICHARDI, Vieillot. 

Heligolandish : Briiiif. Name onomatopa'ic, after the call-note of the bird. 

Anthus Richardi. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtragc, 94. 

Richard's Pipit. Dresser, iii. 325. 

Pipit Richard. Temminck, Manuel, i. 263, iii. 185. 

This liandsome bird Avhich, in all couirtries to the west of Lake 
Baikal, is known only as a solitary occurrence of the greatest rarity, 
is regarded by the professional shooter of this island as so common 
an appearance, that he would not on its account miss the oppor- 
tunity of shooting a Woodcock. Unfortunately, since the change of 
weather during the migration periods — which we have had already 
several times occasion to deplore — has set in, this Pipit is 
less frequent in its appearance than formerly, the conditions in this 
case, again, being fine warm weather and a south-easterly wind. 
Nevertheless, the bird is still seen every autumn, or recognised by 
its far-sounding call-note, while every spring examples are now 
and again shot. 

To enable the reader to form some idea as to the numbers in 
which this bird may, imder favourable conditions, reach western 

' Anthuii campestris (Linn.). 



348 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

Europe, 1 will give here a few extracts from earlier years of my 
ornithological diary : — 

184S. September. From 17th to end of month, shot over thirty 

A. richardi — very many throughout October — the last 

on the 29th of November. 
1S49. Sept. 10th to 2Sth. From ten to over twenty examples 

daily : the last bird shot on the 29th of November at 2° 

below freezing-point. 
1859. September. Very many daily, from begimiing of month 

until 20th. 

1868. September 20. A. richardi very frequent since end of 

August ; repeatedly up to as many as tifty examples in 
one day — often from twenty to thirty together. 
„ Sept. 30. A. richardi still very manj'. 
Oct. 30. A. richardi stdl numerous. 

1869. September 15 to 25. A. ricliardi daily; from ten, twenty, 

to thhty examples. Until end of October, daily, six to 
eight examples. 

1870. Sept. 21. From the first week of the month, A. richardi, 

many every day. 
„ November 23. An old bird, 8 J inches = 203 mm. long. 

187G. September 4. Ten to twelve examples; 6th, twenty and 
more ; 15th, twenty to thirty. 

Those birds must also have been very numerous here in the 
autiunn of 1839 ; at that time I did not possess the least knowledge 
of birds, but remember sitting, on a fine autumn afternoon about 
the beginning of October, with Oehich Aeuckens, the eldest of the 
three brothers, on a bench on the northern jiomt of the island, 
and seeing countless numbers of Meadow Pipits, Larks, and other 
species running about in front of us on a wide grass plain. Aeuckens 
called my attention to some of them as something out of the com- 
mon — these were Kichard's Pipits, and we could see thuteen of 
them withm a distance of tifty paces. There must have been 
hundreds of these birds on Heligoland on that day. 

On the island of Borkum, fifty-six (geographical) miles from 
here, Herr von Droste - Hiilshoft' ( Vogehuelt der Nordseeinsel 
Borkum, p. 105) met with this Pipit in 1868, during the months 
of September and October, on two occasions, in companies of 
seven individuals, and six times singly, or in twos and threes. 
In stating, however, that this species does not proceed by steps, 
like other Pipits, but in hops like a Thrush, the last-named observer 
has decidedly fallen into an error which will be at once set aside by 
an examination of the bird's footprints in the sand. Besides observ- 
ing the birds in numberless instances in the open air, I kept one 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 349 

for several days alive in an open cage, but never noticed it to pro- 
gress in any other manner than by nimbly rumiing step by step. 

This Pipit is a very shy and cautious bird ; and on the open 
bare plain of the island it is very difficult to get to within shooting 
range of it. Once disturbed, it invariably Hies off a long distance, 
at a good height ; under such conditions, it is quite useless to con- 
tinue the pursuit forthwith ; since the bird, if aware of being 
pursued, usually either departs entirely, or at least flies across 
to Sandy Island ; this, however, as \vith many other species, has 
reference only to solitary individuals. If several of them are to- 
gether, or on daj^'s when there is a strong migration, they are far 
less shy. If, on a flne day at such a time, one sits quietly 
in the grass, avoiding every appearance of noticing the birds, and 
allowing other less shy species to run about one undisturbed, one 
will be astonished to see how verj' close these otherwise very 
cautious birds will approach, and perform their various move- 
ments quite naturally and unrestrained. Hours spent thus in the 
confiding company of hundreds of different kinds of these charm- 
ing creatures count among the most enjoyable in an ornithologist's 
vocation. 

The call-note of this bird is described very differently in 
different works : chay — degli — zirp, or ziepp — being some of the 
sounds which it is said to resemble. According to my own 
experience, extending over more than fifty years, during which 
time thousands of these birds have come under ni)^ notice, this call- 
note consists of a loud, rapid and harshly ejaculated r— r — ruiijJ, 
sounding, in the case of young bu-ds, almost like r — r — reep ; this 
is confirmed by the local name of this bird, which is derived from 
its call-note. This note the bird utters only once at every rise, 
except in some rare cases when, after being surprised, it rises 
suddenly, repeating r — r — riip — rlipp several times in quick succes- 
sion. As the bird flies almost alwaj's at a good height, and its 
extremely original caU-note is audible at a great distance, it betrays 
its presence to the shooter while still far away ; when the call-note 
is no longer heard, one may conclude with certainty that the bird 
has settled on the ground. 

In the manner of its flight this Pipit partly resembles the 
Wagtails, partly the Larks. If it is flying over a considerable 
distance at a not very great elevation, it progresses in wide and 
shallow undulations, not however in so striking a manner as the 
Wagtails. Its flight at considerable elevations is more like that of 
the Larks. Ai-rived at the goal of its flight, the bird executes a 
fluttering or shaking movement before descending, previouslj' for a 
moment surveying the place on which it intends to alight as 



350 THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

though to make sure that no danger is kirking for it there. In the 
course of its elevated flight it frequently halts for a moment 
in a similar manner. As has been already stated, the bird moves 
along the ground step by step, very nimbly and rapidly, like the 
Tawny Pipit, — frequently raising its body erect, and taking a look 
round, then again running along for a distance, and often in the 
course of its run leaping upward after insects flying across its 
path ; after which it will rest for a short interval, moving its long 
tail slowly up and down the while : these observations can however 
only be made if one lies on the ground and inspects the bird from 
a considerable distance through a telescope. 

I kept a young autumn bird of this species, shghtly grazed on 
on the wing by a shot, for several days alive in a large cage in 
company with several Buntings and Finches, with which it agreed 
very well. The bird was not at all shy or wild, but ran about 
nimbly and cheerfully, and also accepted readily, and within my 
immediate neiffhboin-hood, some maimed flies which were offered 
it. Unfortunately, I was not prepared for maintaining an insect- 
feeder ; and, much to my chagrin, was obliged to kill it, so as to 
avoid torturing it uselessly. I was the more sorry for this, as I 
felt convinced that I could quite easily have kept it alive with 
ants' eggs, for it is a hardy and by no means a delicate bird. 

During the autumn migration, the young birds of the year, 
which are still almost completely in their first plumage, arrive as 
early as the end of August, their migration lasting until the end of 
October, at which time, also, old birds already make their appear- 
ance. Solitary mdividuals of these latter are met with throughout 
November, and have been repeatedly shot even up to the middle of 
December. 

The spring migration takes place in May — the birds arriving at 
this season being almost invariably solitary old examples in 
beautiful rust-coloured plumage, though also occasionally an 
autumn bird of the preceding year in nearly white faded 
plumage ; in some of these latter the light borders of the greater 
and lesser wing-coverts have literally faded to a pure white. 

In the above-named young summer bird.s — the first arrivals of 
the autumn migration — the upper parts are dull blackish brown, 
the lower whitish, very faintly shot with rust yellow. The feathers 
of all the upper parts, as well as those of the greater and lesser 
outer wing-coverts, have narrow, sharply-defined dull bufly white 
(rostgelblicliweiss) edges, and a stripe of similar colour passes over 
each eye. From the bill downwards, along the sides of the neck, there 
runs on each side a broad line of closely apposed, nearly black spots, 
which on the upper breast and the sides of the breast pass into 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 351 

longitudinal stripes. This pliunago is very rarely obtained in a 
quite pure condition, fewer or more feathers of the following 
plumage, according to the time at which the particular individual 
arrives, beuig mixed with it. The feathers of the upper parts are 
dark olivaceous brown, blackish in the middle ; both colours are, 
however, no longer sharply marked off, but run into each other, the 
rump particularly appearing merely clouded. 

The old bird in fresh adult plumage may perhaps be called the 
handsomest of all the Pipits occurring in Europe. The whole of 
the plumage is overspread by a pleasmg, in part very rich, rust 
colour, only the two outer tad-feathers displaying any pure white. 
The feathers of all the upper parts are brownish black in the 
middle, and have beautiful broad rust-coloured lateral borders, 
their tips being of a lighter colour ; on the head and neck, these 
colours form five dark stripes, separated by rust colour. On the 
rump and upper tail-coverts tlie rust colour is somewhat duller, 
and almost completely hides the dark central parts of the feathers. 
The gi-eater and middle wing-coverts, and the three very long 
posterior flight-feathers, have very broad borders of a rich rust 
colour. All the lower parts are light rust colour, this colour being 
very intense on the sides of the upper breast and breast, and 
particularly on the flanks. From the lower mandible a black stripe 
runs downwards along both sides of the neck, which, becoming 
very broad below, borders the whole of the upper breast in the 
form of stripe-markings. 

The flight-feathers are brownish black, and the tail-feathers 
almost black — the outermost pair of the latter being pure white, 
with a narrow dark cuneiform spot at the base of the inner web ; 
the second pair is dark along the inner edge of the iimer web, and 
has a very narrow, almost black, stripe on the shaft. The pure 
white of these two pairs of feathers forms the sole white marking 
in the whole plumage of the bird. 

The bill is of pale horn colour, the tip being dark, and the legs 
and feet are of pale yellowish flesh colour. The rust colour of the 
plumage, as described above, is intermediate between rust yellow 
and rust red. I have only obtained two birds in which this colour 
had to be called faint rust red, or ferruginous, these being probably 
very old examples. The female of this species is distinguished 
from the male by the rust colour being rather less beautiful, and 
having a slight touch of olivaceous brown — the spots, also, which 
form a border or gorget round the upper breast, are more rounded 
in form — there is no difference between the sexes in size of body 
and the length of the spur. It should be further noted that the 
sides of the breast and the flanks in old birds are invariably with- 



352 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

out spots, while pale blackish stripes are found on these parts only 
in young birds still in their first plumage. 

The measurements of a fine old male shot on the 7 th of May 
1850, are as follows : — Total length, S ins. (203 mm.) ; length of 
wings, 3-93 ins. (100 mm.) ; length of tail, 315 ins. (80 m.m.) ; length 
of tail uncovered by wings, 1-96 in. (50 inm.) ; length of bill, '59 in. 
(15 mm.) ; length of tarsus, 1-25 in. (32 mm.). The middle toe 
measures -78 in. (20 mm.), and its nail -31 in. (8i mm.) The 
230sterior toe measures '51 in. (13 mm.), and its spur '78 in. 
(20 7nm.). 

The breeding home of this species is Daiiria, extending from 
Lake Baikal eastwards to the Lower Amoor, and southward to 
Mongolia. In its autumn migration it is carried in great quanti- 
ties to China and India — as far south as Ceylon ; but, as is the 
case with many species from eastern Asia, a large proportion of 
these migrants turns to the west — probably none to so great an 
extent as this Pipit — flying across the whole of the Asiatic and 
European continents to Spain, and even passing from the latter 
country across to western Africa — a migration flight of 4800 geo- 
graphical miles. During these migrations, solitary examples of the 
bird have been killed in all countries of Europe. From England 
about fifty such instances, dating back as far as the year 1812, 
are recorded. That the bird has not been more frequently killed 
in Germanjr is probably due to insufficient observation, for con- 
sidering the record which this little neighbouring island is able 
to show in this respect, one would conclude with certainty that 
the bird must also have very frequently touched on the mainland 
of Germany. 

The first eggs of this species were collected by Dybowski near 
Lake Baikal, and have probably hitherto not been found west of 
that district ; they are very much like those of the Water and 
Rock Pipit, but are somewhat larger, and not so pointed as the 
latter ; the largest of four collected by Dybowski, and in my posses- 
sion, is -86 in. (22 mm.) long, and -57 in. (17 mm.) broad. In two 
of them the ground-colour is white, but so closely and finely 
marked with light reddish brown, that at a short distance the eggs 
appear of a uniform colour ; the third is very similar, but its colour 
inclines slightly towards a brownish olivaceous ; the fourth is much 
larger, with clearer brownish spots and dashes, so that the greenish 
white ground-colour everywhere is seen clearly through the 
markings. 



THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 353 

Lark — Alauda. — This genus embraces, according to Seebohra, 
about seventy species. All of these, with one exception, are con- 
fined to the Old World, nine of them occurring in HeHgoland. 



160. — Skylark [Feldlerciie]. 

ALAUDA ARVENSIS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Lortsk = ia?7i;. 

Alauda arvensis. Naumaun, iv. 156. 

Skylark. Dresser, iv. 307. 

Alouette des champs. Temminck, Manud, i. 281, iii. 203. 

The Skylark is the only bird which lends to Heligoland a touch 
of the true poesy of spring ; for now and again, on rare and excep- 
tional occasions, a pair of these birds are content to build their 
nest on this humble island rock, and to send down upon it from 
the clear ethereal heights their joyous strains of song. With how 
much wonderment must the bird look down upon this little island 
speck from heights of a thousand feet or more to which it has risen, 
singing, on quivering wings ; and how strange a contrast is the 
unbounded surface of heaving ocean-waves, now spread beneath it, 
to the acres of waving cornfields over which its notes resounded 
in other places. 

Although the bird does not actually herald the advent of 
spring, it may at least be credited with proclaiming the departure 
of winter; for its first flights arrive as early as February, or even 
January, if at that time the winter cold has relaxed and the weather 
happens to be what we would call mild for the season of the year. 
To illustrate this, on the night of the I7th of January 1882, after a 
change to better weather had occurred, a verj' strong migration of 
Skylarks took place, and thousands of these birds were seen flying 
eastwards on the following day. This prematiu"e desire for travel 
has, however, often very ill consequences ; for if there be a return of 
frost or snow, the travellers are again forced to abandon, often in sad 
plight, the homes to which they had hastened with so much joy. 
In some years this home-coming and re-departing is frequently 
repeated, for on the least favourable change of weather the birds 
at once hasten back to their nesting places. However, inasmuch as 
the bird is very modest in his food requirements, it has got over 
its worst difficulties by the time the latter half of February is 
reached. The main migration lasts until the end of March ; but 
small grey stragglers, in greater or less number, are by no means 

z 



354 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of unusual occurrence even late into April. The autumn migration 
takes place during October and November. 

The Skylark belongs to those birds, the altitude of whose migra- 
tory flight hardly ever passes beyond the utmost limits of human 
vision ; for they never, not even during tine and sunny spring days, 
rise to elevations at which they appear no larger than scarcely 
perceptible particles of dust, as is so often the case at that time 
with Jackdaws and Rooks, but the separate birds of a flock can 
invariably be distinguished to perfection by a keen and practised 
eye. In the autumn migration, on the other hand, especially in 
dull and heavy weather, they often fly so low over the sea that 
they have to adapt their flight to the undulations of the slowly 
rolling waves. During uniformly dark, damp autumn nights the 
height of their migration-flight seems to amount to about 200 feet, 
for all the birds seen here by the lantern of the lighthouse arrive 
flying in the same plane as the latter, as is also the case with all 
the other various migrants which arrive on these dark nights. As 
soon, however, as this uniformly dense darkness begins to get 
at all scattered, with the appearance of one single star, or of 
the faint line of light which announces the speedy rise of the moon, 
all these Larks, like all other migrants present at the same time, 
rise at once to elevations from which not a single one of their call- 
notes is any longer audible. If a few hours later, the firmament 
once more becomes shrouded in uniform darkness, the stream of 
migrants forthwith again rushes past at the former lower altitude. 
As we have already expressed in the chapter on the Altitude of the 
Migration Flight, these phenomena illustrate in a striking manner 
how much the height at which birds fly in their migratory journeys 
is dependent on the conditions of the atmosphere prevailing at 
the time ; and an apparently slight change in these conditions 
either brings the wanderers within our view, or completely with- 
draws them from the observation of our senses. Accordingly, 
weeks and weeks sometimes pass without the birds due at the 
particular time being seen ; it is then generally assumed that they 
have been kept back by bad weather. Should, however, the 
weather suddenly improve at the end of the spring migration of 
some particular species, all that will be seen of the latter is a rear- 
guard composed of females and younger birds ; whence it follows 
that the males which initiate the migration have, during the pre- 
valence of unfavourable conditions in the lower regions of the 
atmosphere, made use of strata oft'ering more favourable conditions, 
and have passed on their way far above the range of our observing 
faculties. 

The migratory phenomena of these Larks, as they are displayed 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 355 

in tliis island, often call to mind a much vexed question of recent 
times, — viz. : — the diminution in the numbers of birds, and the 
necessity for protection. To a witness, however, of the enormous 
passage of migrants, of the myriads of individuals which on autumn 
nights travel past this island, like the Hakes of a snowstorm, not 
only within the area of the lighthouse, but for miles north and south 
out to sea, these complaints seem quite incomprehensible. It is 
surely impossible that the hand of man can exercise any perceptible 
influence on such enormous migration-streams ; for even if during a 
certain year, long ago, 15,000 Larks were caught here in one autumn 
night, this number does not even approximately express a jDroportion 
of one for each 10,000 individuals forming part of such a migrant 
stream, extending from to 8 German — 24 to 32 geographical- 
miles in breadth, and lasting for about seven hours ; and all that is 
needed for a phenomenal appearance of this kind is that the 
requisite meteorological conditions coincide with the normal time of 
migration of a particular species. Such a coincidence has naturally 
not occurred very often, and has indeed become rarer and rarer in 
the course of the last thirty years ; when, however, it does occur, 
all the sjjecies at that particular time are found to be represented 
in as enormous flights as they were at any previous period, thereby 
proving that the birds still exist in quantities which exceed all 
computation. We must, of course, not overlook the fact that the 
great treasure-house, whence this island derives its immeasurable 
riches, extends eastward for more than a thousand German, or four 
thousand geographical miles, and for the most part consists of an area 
the primitive natural conditions of which have been left completely 
untouched by the hand of man. To be sure, if after some thousands 
of years all the land from the Neva to Kamtschatka were to become 
as thickly populated and as extensively cultivated as central 
Europe is at the present day, it would indeed be a bad outlook for 
our little feathered friends ; for where could they possibly betake 
themselves if they were to be banished from these homes, as they 
are at present being driven from others — for instance, from Germany. 
The much-discussed diminution of birds in Germany has not been 
brought about by their destruction, but by crowding-out. We know 
how fish have been almost completely l)anished from many rivers 
by the refuse waters of countless manufactories and overgrown 
cities. In the same manner agriculture pushed to the utmost 
limits of productiveness, the cultivation of even the smallest spot 
of land, the clearance of every bush or shrub, the cutting down of 
woods, and the clearance of forests, have either destroyed the 
ancestral homes of our birds, or their happiness and comfort have 
been so much disturbed by the all-pervading noise of railways, corn- 



356 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

mills, iron-works, crusliing-Diills, saw-mills, and rolling-mills, that 
they have retired to districts lying far away from the noisy 
occupations of mankmd. How many thousands of places have, 
through causes of this kind, lost their nightingales; and then 
when their song is no longer heard, the fault is laiil in most cases 
to every possible cause but the right one. Not a word, however, 
can be pleaded in excuse for such disgusting wholesale massacres 
of the smallest songsters as seem to be carried on in Italy. 

The most terrible enemies of the smaller birds are the Crows, 
Corvus comix and corone, of whose enormous numbers one can 
have no conception, at least not on the mainland of Europe. 
In Heligoland one is able to gain a more correct idea of their 
numbers, especially during the autumn migration, when for more 
than five weeks an almost incessant stream of these birds not 
only passes across the island, but, so far as I have been able to 
determine, extends at least eight geographical miles out to sea on 
the north, and, on the south, to the German coast actually as far as 
Bremerhaven ; thus presenting a nugration-column of from thirty- 
two to forty miles in breadth. The velocity of the flight of these 
birds amounts, as has been shown in the first part of this work, to 
108 geographical miles per hour ; let any one therefore form a con- 
ception of the myriads of these creatures, reflecting at the same time 
that every one of them, during the long summer daj's, from four in 
the morning until late sunset, does nothing else than hunt for eggs 
and young nestlings. After a consideration of this kmd, we can 
only feel astonished that there stiU exists any single small bird at 
all. This work of amiihilation is fm-ther aided by Magpies and 
Jays, which, however, are fortimately not so rich in individuals as 
the two species of Crows above referred to. 

Accordingly, it would be well for the protectoi's of our smaller 
birds to seek as much as possible to limit the numbers of these 
robbers. This, to be sure, seems a hopeless task enough when we 
consider the immense extent of their breeding area extending on 
the east beyond the Jencsci, though in Germany at all events it 
might be carried out with success. 

The Skylark breeds from Portugal to Kamtschatka, and in the 
north as far as upper Scandinavia. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 357 

161. — Wood Lark [Heidelerche]. 
ALAUDA ARBOREA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Piddl — name onomatopcfiic, after the call-uote. 
Alauda arborea. Nauinann, iv. 102. 
Wood Lark. Dresser, i v. 321. 

Alouette luhi. T eiiuniiu-k, Manuel, i. 2S2, iii. 203. 

This elegant and harmless little bird visits Heligoland only in 
small mnnbers ; it is quite exceptional to see more than from three 
to five individuals together, and only on one occasion have I met 
Avith a larger number: this was during the powerful migration- 
stream of species from the far East in the autumn of 1847, 
when there occurred on the 13th of November a flock of at 
least fifty or sixty of these birds. It is their habit to run quietly 
about on the arable land, and one only notices their presence, 
when they are accidentally startled, by their merry and melodious 
call-note — ' Tli piddl — Tu piddl ' — uttered from an inconsiderable 
height in the air. 

One cannot help being fond of this gentle, confiding little 
creature, and no one on the island thinks of doing it any harm — 
unless perhaps an accident should bring it under the primitive net 
of one of our youthful fowlers, which happens, however, extremely 
rarely. 

Though by no means what one would call a robust bird, it can 
nevertheless not have a feeble constitution, because it commences 
its migration while the weather is generalljf still raw — as early as 
the end of February — and continues it through JIarch. Its autumn 
migration takes place chiefly in October and November, but 
scattered young birds also arrive as early as September. All the 
birds appear to travel by day, none having as yet been met with 
during the night- captures at the lantern of the lighthouse nor in 
the flelds. The song, which our great master Naumann describes 
in such rapturous terras, has unfortunately never yet been heard 
here. 

This bird breeds in central and southern Europe, from Portugal 
to the Ural, though in the former country as well as in Spain only 
in small numbers. In the north, solitary examples are still met with 
in southern Scandinavia ; while in the south its range seems to 
extend as far as Palestine, Tristram having found it nesting in that 
country. 



358 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

162. — Pallas' Short-toed Lark [Pallas' kukzzehige Lerche]. 
ALAUDA PLSPOLETTA, Pallas.i 

Jlauda pispoleita. PaU&s' Zoogr. Boss.-Asiaf., 526. 

Pallas' Short-toed Lark. Dresser, iv. 355. 

On the 26th of May 1879, Aeuckens came to my house remark- 
ing, in a rather casual manner, that he had shot the small Short- 
toed Lark which he had already seen on the day previously. In 
handling the bird, however, I much surprised him with a friendlj' 
box on the ear, as, pointing to the smaller posterior Hight-feathers 
and the spotted upper breast, I added : ' What have I been telling you 
these many years ? What was it you were specially to take notice 
of ? ' As, however, he is as passionately fond of a rare or new bird 
as I am myself, his joy at this lucky capture of a species new to 
our island was no less lively than my own. 

In the coloration of its plumage, this species bears the 
strongest resemblance to the small grey Skjdarks (A. arvensis), 
which form the rearguard of the spring migration. Neither the 
light edges of the feathers of the head, back, and wings, nor the 
upper breast and sides of the breast, have the least touch of ferru- 
ginous — all are dull buffy grey {rodgelhlich grau), which colour on 
the eye-streaks, neck, and the under side of the bird, passes into a 
dull yellowish white. Each feather on the ujjper breast and the 
sides of the breast has a broad blackish-brown central stripe, which 
on the flanks is converted into a fine stripe on the shafts of the 
feathers. The tail-feathers are brownish black — the outenuost 
pair is pure white, not isabelline as in A. hrachydactyla, and the 
inner webs towards the root bear cuneiform spots of a dingy dark 
colour. In the second pair of feathers, the outer webs only are 
white. The bill in my fresh example was very light bluish grey, 
towards the base, especially on the lower mandible, light sulphur 
yellow ; the feet were light tiesh-coloured. 

The measurements of the example killed here — a female — are as 
follows : — Total length, 5'62 ins. (143 mm.) ; length of wings, 3'46 
ins. (88 mm.); length of tail, 2-20 ins. (56 him.); length of tail 
uncovered by the wings, -82 in. (21 mm.). The bill measures 32 in. 
(8 mm.), and the tarsus -86 in. (22 mm.). A male bird of this 
species, lent me by Dresser for comparison, is -94. in. (24 mm.) 
longer than the example described above. 

This small Lark, which hitherto seems not to have been 
observed west of its breedmg range, occurs as a resident breeding 

' CalandreUa pispoletta (I'all.). 



THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 359 

species from the Lower Volga, and the area of the Caspian Sea to 
Turkestan, and Persia, and as far as MongoUa and China. 



163. — Short-toed Lark [Kurzzehige Lerche]. 

ALAUDA BRACHYDACTYLA, Leislcr.i 

Heligolandisli : Liitj Loitsk = Small Lark. 

Alauda brachydactyla. Naumann, iv. i88. 

Short-toed Lark. Dresser, iv. 341. 

Alouettc calandrdle. Temniinck, Manuel, i. 2S4, iii. 205. 

Formerly, hardly a year passed without this pretty little Lark 
being observed here at the end of May or June, even though only 
in very solitary instances. 

In former years, when more favourable conditions of weather 
prevailed, the bird was seen pretty frequently in autumn, sometimes 
even as late as November. During the time I have been collecting, 
it has passed through my hands about thirty times ; and besides 
that, it has been seen and heard, without being killed, on an equal 
nimiber of occasions. 

The examples obtained in summer — which undoubtedly origi- 
nate from Greece and Asia Minor — are invariably much more 
ferruginous, especially the males, than those which have been shot 
here in October and November. The home of the latter in Asia 
must extend to the latitude of Heligoland, the birds there undoubt- 
edly joining themselves to the many other species from the far 
East whose autumn migration proceeds in a westerly direction. In 
the absence of any single actual instance in support of it, the idea 
of an autuum migration directed to the north-west from Greece or 
Asia Minor cannot be entertained. 

The predominant colour of the upper parts of the October birds 
is a pale dull clay-yellow {blasses trilhes Lehmgelh) ; the under 
side is almost pure white, suffused on the sides of the upper breast 
and flanks with the colouring of the back ; the birds of the year 
from the south-east, on the other hand, are nearly all of a pale 
ferruginous colour. In a male of this kind obtained in June, the 
whole crown of the head is of a vivid ferruginous, each separate 
feather, however, having a fine rust-brown stripe on the shaft. 

There is a remarkable difference in the sizes of the autumn 
birds which have occurred here : thus, some examples which I have 
obtained did not exceed 5 ins. (127 riDu.) in length ; others again 
are much larger, as, for instance, an example shot on the 14th of 

' CalandrUla brachydactyla (Leisl. ). 



360 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

November 1870, which measured 602 ins. (158 mm.). In the first- 
named example the wing measured 3'26 ins. (83 )iim.), the tail 1'96 
in. (50 mm.) ; whilst, in the last-named, the wings were 3'78 ins. 
(96 mm.), and the tail 2-56 ins. (65 mm.). The birds of the year from 
the south-east, on the contrary, exhibit scarcely any difference in 
size. 

• I kept one of these pretty little birds over a year in a cage ; it 
had been momentarily stunned by a very light shot which had 
grazed the back of its head, but recovered very soon, and became 
extraordinarily tame. It underwent a complete moult in the 
autumn, managed to get safely through the winter, and saug 
heartily during the spring ; but died, nmch to my regret, at the 
beginning of the sTunmer. Its song was much more like that of 
a Bunting than a Skylark. I fed it on canary-seed, which, like a 
Lapland Bunting in a cage hanging by its side, it used to peel 
before consuming ; a Shore Lark, on the other hand, which I had 
had over ten years in a cage, never did this. 

This Lark occurs as resident breeding species from Portugal 
through all the countries of the Mediterranean and as far as India. 
Heligoland is the extreme northern limit up to which it has been 
observed as an exceptional occurrence. 

164. — Calandra Lark [Kalander-Lerche]. 
ALAUDA CALANDRA, Linn.' 

Alaucla calandra. Naumann, iv. p. 127. 

Calandra Larh Dresser, iv. 365. 

Alouctte calandre. Temminck, Manuel, 276, iii. 206. 

At the beginning of June 1839 or 1840, one of these birds was 
shot by Reymers on Sandy Island : that is all that can be reported 
about it from this island. It has, unfortunately, never yet been 
captured during all the time I have been collecting. This is the 
more surprising, inasmuch as, being a south European species, it 
inhabits Greece as numerously as the Short-toed Lark, of which 
species examples have occurred here almost every year. Probably 
the bird has a particular aversion towards travelling northwards, 
just as we find many species from eastern Asia which do not 
deviate westwards from their normal southern autumn migration ; 
while large numbers of other species, breeding side by side with 
these, do so annually to a very considerable extent. 

The Calandra Lark is a breeding bird in all the countries of the 
Mediterranean, both in Europe and Africa, and also in Asia Minor 
and Palestine. 

' Mdanocorypha calandra ( Linu. ). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 361 

165. — White-winged Lark [^YEIssFLUGELIGE Lerche]. 
ALAUDA LEUCOPTERA, PaUas.i 

Heligolandish : Witt-jukked Lort.sk= White-winged Lark. 

Alauda leucoptera. Pallas, Zoogr. Ross.-Asiat., i. 518. 
Wliite-winged Larlc. Dresser, iv. 373. 

For many years it was iny special desire to acquire one of these 
birds among the other species from eastern Asia which I wished to 
obtain on this island. During a week's visit which Dresser paid 
me in July 1881, I happened to give expression to this wish, and 
he at once expressed his readiness to send me a skin. I however 
refused his friendly offer, remarking that a skin would be of no use 
to me, as the birds would have to come to me alive ; and— Ziipiis in 
fahiila — one of them was actually already on its way hither ; for a 
week later, on the 2nd of August, a freshly-shot beautiful old male, 
with ferruginous crown, and the outer surface of the wings of the 
same colour, was brought to me. The gunner Avho shot it, not 
being an ornithologist, took it for a Snow Bunting, on account of 
its pure white secondaries. That I might, however, have nothing 
further to wish for in regard to this species, Aeuckens, a few years 
later, brought me a freshly-killed, beautiful old female, shot on the 
2nd of June 188G. 

The breeding home of this large, thick-billed Lark extends from 
the Steppes of the Lower Volga, through the Khirgiz Steppes, to 
the Jenesei. 

Pallas first met with it very numerously distributed along the 
Irtish, as far as the Altai. It has been observed as an exceptional 
occurrence in Poland and Galicia, and has been shot twice in 
Belgium, once in England, and once in Italy. 

166. — Black Lark [Mohrenlerche]. 
ALAUDA TATARICA, PaUas.^ 

Alauda latarica. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Ndchtraye, 15S. 

Black Lark. Dresser, iv. 377. 

Alouefte nigre. Temminok, Manuel, i. 275, iii. 207. 

This peculiar Lark, the male of which in summer has its 
plumage of a uniform black, is represented in my collection by a 
female, shot here by Glaus Aeuckens on the 27th April 1874. 

Although this female example has throughout the characteristic 

' Melanocorypha sibirica (Gmel.). - Melanocorypha ydtonienais (FoTst.). 



362 THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

colours and markings of the Lark family, it is nevertheless at once 
distinguished from the two preceding species, A. calandra and 
A. leucoptera, by the absence of the white colour on the inner web 
of the outer pair of tail-feathers, and by the black colour of the 
under wing-coverts. 

The breeding range of this species extends across the Steppes 
of central Asia, whence in rare and exceptional cases it reaches 
central Europe. The only authenticated instance of its occurrence 
in Europe appears to be the bird shot in Heligoland. Blasius 
states that in March 1850 three or four examples occurred near 
Brussels. 

[I have much pleasure in being able to add to the preceding 
account, that to-day(July 27, 1892) an extraordinarily fine old male 
of this, so rare, species in central Europe was brought to me by 
Jasper Kliffmann, the nephew of Claus Aeuckens, which had been 
shot by him shortly before on the Upper Plateau. Accordingly 
this species, so peculiar by reason of its summer plumage, is now 
represented in my collection by an old pair. 

The whole plumage of this example is of a uniform deep black, 
without the least trace of the light edges of the feathers in the 
winter plumage. By way of contrast to the plumage, the colour of 
the beak in the fresh bird is a quite light, whitish-bluish-grey, very 
faintly shot with whitish sulphur yellow : the feet are of a uniform 
black. 

The measurements of this old male are as follows : — Total length 
from forehead to tip of tail, 7-64 ins. (194 inm.) ; length of wing 
in repose, 5-30 ins. (134 mm.) ; length of tail, 2-83 ins. (72 mm.); 
length of tail uncovered by wings, 78 in. (20 mm.). 

The measurements of the female are considerably less through- 
out.] 

167.— Crested Lark [Hatjbenlekche]. 

ALAUDA CRISTATA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Topped Lortsk = Cresf efi Lark. 

Alauda cristata. Nauniann, iv. 134. 

Crested Lark. Dresser, iv. 285. 

Alouette cochevis. Temminck, Manuel, i. 277, iii. 204. 

It is singidar that this species, Avhich is so common in Slcswick- 
Holstein, counts here among the greatest rarities, scarcely a single 
bird being seen during intervals of three or four years. How- 
ever, Heligoland is in this respect a partner in misfortune with the 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 363 

neighbouring isle of England, where this Lark likewise belongs to the 
very rare occurrences, although it nests in fair abundance on the 
other side of the EngUsh Channel and in Holland. This inequality 
of distribution is probably to be explained by the fact that the bird 
has an aversion to crossing the sea, and that such individuals as arc 
found to breed in small numbers in the south of Sweden remain 
there the whole j'car. In Norway the species is represented by 
only three examples, which were observed at Drontheim, in ItsSO 
(Collett, Norges Fiujlefauna). 

This Lark is distributed as a breeding species from Portugal 
through central and southern Europe and Asia as far as China. In 
the north I have met with it in East Friesland. 

168.— Shore Lark [Bkrglerche]. 
ALAUDA ALPESTRIS, Lmn.i 

Heligolandish : Berg hoTtik = Mountain Lark. 

Alaiula alpestris. Nauruanu, iv. 149. 

Shore Larh Dresser, iv. 387. 

Alouette a haussc-col-noir. Temminck, Manuel, \. 279, iii. 201. 

The question of the gradual extension of the breeding range of 
some birds has much occupied the present generation of ornitholo- 
gists. Alexander von Homeyer has attempted to establish the 
advance of the Serin Finch {Fringilla scrinufs), and everybody 
knows that the Little Bustard has, a number of years since, taken 
up a fixed abode in some districts of Thuringia, and nests there in 
annually increasing numbers. Again, Pallas' Grey Shrike (Lanius 
major) has been undoubtedly likewise engaged, during a number of 
years, in extending its area of distribution from cast to west, as has 
been more fully discussed under the description of that species; while 
the same fact finds more or less striking expression in the case of 
several other bhds. There is, however, probably no species which 
has so rapidly and in such numbers advanced the limits of its dis- 
tribution as this Lark has done in the course of the last fifty years, 
and nowhere are its annually increasing migratory flocks displayed 
so abundantly, as at present is regidarly the case in Heligoland 
during the autumn and spring migrations. 

Until the autumn of 1847 the Shore Lark was known here 

only from the examples shot by the brothers Aeuckens some ten 

years before that date ; during the October and November of the 

latter year, however, the birds all of a sudden appeared in such large 

* Otocoiya alpeatri/i (Linn.). 



364 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

nuiubers that another gunner of the name of Aeuckens was able to 
shoot twenty of them in one day, while some sixty examples were 
captured during the course of the autumn migration. From that 
time onwards the birds appeared every autumn, on every favourable 
migration day, though perhaps not in such abundance as in the 
first-mentioned year, during the autumn months of which an 
exceptionally abundant migration of species from the far East 
took place. Nevertheless, the numbers of these visitors increased 
steadily every year from that time. The notes in my journal are 
as follows :— October 1S50, several daily: October 1852, small 
companies; November 1863, many; October, November 1869, 
hundreds daily ; 20th to 24th October 1870, Hocks of from twenty 
to eighty examples ; on the 28th flocks of hundreds : October 
1874, in large quantities. Ten years later they could only be 
estimated by thousands ; and in the course of recent years the 
numbers of this handsome lark have increased to such an extent 
that on some days in the autumn of 1883 all the fields of the Upper 
Plateau of the island were completely covered with the birds, while in 
the spring of 1884 there perhaps occurred here more of them than 
during all the spring migrations of preceding years put together. 

The birds have continued to pass through in the same large 
numbers annually on all favourable days up to the present year 
1888. The original native home of the Shore Lark is North 
America, where it is distributed as a breeding species fi'om high 
Arctic latitudes down to Texas and the mountain plateaus of 
Mexico. The more southern individuals do not display the pleasing 
soft vinous red coloration of the plumage, for the latter has given 
place to a bright brick red ; their measurements, too, are less than 
those of the more northern forms. However, they in no way 
dift'cr from those which at present migrate in hundreds of thou- 
sands to almost the westernmost parts of Europe. By degrees this 
species has advanced its nesting stations throughout the whole of 
northern Asia and Europe as far as Scandinavia, and there is no 
doubt that it will next establish itself in the north of Scotland ; 
there might then result the most interesting fact of some of these 
birds fl^'ing across the Atlantic back to their original home as 
exceptional visitors. The first isolated instances of the occurrence 
of the Shore Lark in Europe are of very remote date. According 
to Klein, an example was killed at Danzig as early as the yenv 
1667. Frisch, in 1739, gave a rejjresentation of an example which 
had occurred in Brandenburg, and Klein mentions it as having 
been again observed near Danzig in 1747. At that time the bird 
was known only as an American species, and the individuals 
enumerated above were considered to have reached Europe through 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 365 

having been driven out of their course by storms. It is, however, 
more probable that the species had at that time already estab- 
lished itself in Asia east of the Lena. Nilsson, in his Fauna of 
Scandinavia, states that Linnwus in 1758, and Brisson in 1760, 
regarded this bird as exclusively a resident of America, but that 
later on it had been discovered in those districts of Asia which 
are situated nearest to America. According to Pallas {Zoogr. Ross.- 
Asiat., 1811) the bird was in the last-named year already distri- 
buted over the whole of Siberia, but until 1835 had not been 
met with as a breeding bird in Scandinavia. Nilsson, however, even 
at that time expressed his conviction that such would probably 
be the next thing to occur, his prediction being verified by Pro- 
fessor Loven's discovery of the species, two years later, in eastern 
Finmark. Since that time the Shore Lark has rapidly multiphed, 
until it has become one of the most common breeding birds in 
Lapland and Finmark. 

The preceding statements have been collected from Newton's 
edition of Yarrell's British Birds, and from Dresser's Birds of 
Europe. 

In England the number of individuals observed and killed in 
that country has likewise increased continuously within the last 
fifty years, although, as compared with Heligoland, this increase is 
only a modest one. Four cases of its occurrence are reported 
during the thirties ; an example was shot in each of the years 
1840, 1850 and 1853, and in 1859 three of a small band were killed. 
From 1860 to 1870 the visitors increased to flocks of from fifteen 
to twenty individuals, and in the autumn of 1873 no less than 
thirty-three were killed at Spurn Point, at the mouth of the 
Humber, just opposite Heligoland ; three years later this number 
had already increased to .some eighty individuals, which were shot 
during the autumn months of 1882 in the neighbourhood of 
Yarmouth. 

It remains, however, a mystery where the many hundreds of 
thousands of Shore Larks which, each autumn, pass across or along 
Heligoland by an east-to-west route, pass their winter. It 
cannot be in Great Britain, despite the fact that the vast majority 
of autumn migrants arrive there by an east-to-west route, for their 
number is so great that they would simply cover all the fields in 
that country. What then becomes of them ? We cannot believe 
that they escape observation, for the Shore Lark is a very restless 
bird, and does not, like other Lark species, try to escape observation 
by skulking along the ground, but, on the other hand, invariably runs 
along the ground in a h>u-ried aiid restless manner, at once taking 
to the wing on the approach of man, and incessantly uttering its 



366 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

clear call-note during its flight. Neither do the birds appear in north 
Germany or Holland in numbers corresponding to the enormous 
numbers in which they become visible on this island. In France 
they seem to be observed still more sparingly, and in Spain they 
have, up to the present, not been met \s'ith at all. Notwithstanding, 
according to the direction of the route by which they arrive here, 
and in which they continue on their departure, the goal of their 
journey — or, in other words, their winter quarters — must lie in the 
two last-named countries, for the autunm migration of this species 
illustrates in a most salient manner the view expressed in the 
chapter on the Direction of the Migration Flight, viz. : ' That of the 
birds whose general autumn movement proceeds in a westerly 
direction, such individuals as have their breeding homes in lati- 
tudes rather far north, do, under circumstances of necessity, make 
temporary deviations to the south of their normal migration route.' 

This species must have displayed, even from its origin, a strong 
inclination for a westerly autumn migration, for otherwise it could 
never have got across into Asia, and finally to Lapland and Finmark. 
A large number, if not indeed the majority, of all the individuals 
breeding in northern Asia and the north of European Russia 
persist, even at the present day, in this route of migration as far 
as northern Scandinavia. Those observed in eastern Finmark are 
seen to arrive from the east, whence they are called Russian Snow 
Buntings. After reaching Finmark and Lapland they, in companj' 
with the individuals breeding in those districts, turn southward, in 
order to resume their former westerly course in latitudes somewhat 
farther south, for it is only in this way that we can explain their 
occurrence in such large and continually increasing nudtitudes 
within the confines of Heligoland, coupled with the western ex- 
tension of the breeding range of the species ; neither Lapland nor 
Finmai'k, together with European Russia, is spacious enough to 
produce such enormous quantities of individuals. 

That the deflection of their migration-route to the south com- 
mences in upper Scandinavia may be concluded from the fact that 
neither has the bird been met with by Saxby on the Shetland 
Islands, nor is there any mention made of it in the British migi-ation 
reports from the east coast of Scotland ; while, finally, this con- 
clusion is confirmed by the reports of CoUett, according to which 
the autumn migration of the Shore Lai-ks proceeds on the east of 
Norway, from north to south through Sweden, and the bird is 
hardly ever seen in the former country down to its southernmost 
extremity. To the south of Sweden, however, the migration must 
again assume a westerly direction, to account for the countless 
flocks arriving in Heligoland, and to a less extent in England ; all 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 367 

such birds, according to direct observations, not only arriving by 
an east-to-west line of flight, but having almost all been observed 
or killed on the eastern coast districts of the country. 

From the comparatively small number met with in the east of 
England it appears that the hundreds of thousands which continue 
their autumn journey from Heligoland westwards caimothave their 
winter quarters in the former country, but iiuist continue their 
journey at a high elevation. Since, however, they do not reach 
the west of England — only two individuals being recorded as having 
occurred there in 1879 by Rodd, at the close of many years of 
observation (Birds of Cornwall and Scilly) — and have not been met 
with by Thompson in Ireland, one must suppose that they turn 
south in the central parts of the country, and travel across to France 
and Spain, possibly passing the winter months in the central 
mountain regions of these countries. That they continue their 
journey to Africa is perhaps a somewhat venturesome assumption. 

The Shore Larks have appeared here in increasing numbers also 
during the spring migrations of recent years, these numbers reach- 
ing an almost astonishing proportion in April and May of 1884. 
Not only may this phenomenon be intimately connected with the 
increasing number of breeding birds at their most western breeding 
stations, Finmark and Lapland, but it may also bring the question 
of their winter quarters nearer to a solution. From the fact that 
all the species from the far east and north-east which so frequently 
occur in Heligoland during the autumn hardly ever touch on the 
island again in the spring, we concluded, in the chapter on the 
Direction of the Migration Flight, that all birds which endeavour 
to reach winter quarters in latitudes farther south by making 
temporary southward deflections from the normal westerly course 
of their autunm migration, in the spring, when migration proceeds 
at much greater haste, try to return from these lower lying points 
to their breeding homes in a direct line — i.e. along the hypotenuse 
of the angle formed l)y the lines of flight pursued in the autumn 
migration. A line having for its terminal points Finmark and 
Lapland, with Heligoland lying in its middle, would have its com- 
mencement in Spain and western France, in which latter countries 
we may accordingly with safety look forward to finding the winter 
quarters of the Shore Lark. That hitherto we have not succeeded 
in discovering them is probably only due to the want of sufficient 
exploration of these countries during all the months of the year. 

On account of its pleasing appearance I have kept one of these 
birds for years in a cage. The song, though by no means loud, is 
nevertheless agreeably lark-like ; its call-note, with which it cheer- 
fully greets me as soon as it hears my step, two large rooms off, is 



368 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

loud and mellow. Most of the birds are peevish in captivity, and 
tire themselves by impetuously fluttering against and shaking the 
bars of their cage ; this is probablj' duo to the fact of one's not 
being able to avoid selecting the prettily-marked old males for 
cage-birds. My example, however, which I have kept now for 
more than ten years, is so tame that it will take flies from the 
finger, and even allows me to put my hand into the cage and softly 
stroke its back with my finger. 

In the spring this bird will accept so-called earwigs, and in the 
summer, flies, but rejects both these insects as autumn approaches. 
Small and moderately sized moths are always acceptable, and 
spiders are received with the utmost readiness at all times of the 
year. Its staple food, however, is canary-seed, and as much green 
food as is procurable. Sustained in this manner, the bird keeps in 
excellent condition, renewing its jDlumage every autumn to such 
perfection that it is in no way inferior to a bird living in a state of 
nature. 

As has been already mentioned. Shore Larks are very rest- 
less birds, constantly running rapidly and restlessly about the 
fields. They are also rapid and dexterous flyers, and during their 
flight give repeated utterance to their call-note which, if not loud, 
is clear and distinct: it resemblesaclear ringing Zie — hi — hi, continu- 
ously repeated, and has much resemblance to the call of the Hedge- 
Sparrow, except that it is louder. 

The Shore Lark occurs as a breeding species from northern 
Scandinavia to Behring Strait, as well as through the whole of 
northeni America. It does not reside in Greenland, and has never 
been met with in Iceland nor on the Faroe Islands. 



Bunting — Ember ica. — This genus embraces about forty species, 
distributed over Europe, Asia, and America, from ten to twelve 
being breeding birds in Europe. Among the birds of Heligoland 
it occupies a most prominent place ; among the seventeen species 
which have been observed here, no less than nine are of exceptional 
occurrence, among which Emheriza rustica is represented by ten, 
E. melanocephala by at least fifteen, and E. pusilla by from forty 
to fifty examples. 

As compared with this numerous occurrence of species from such 
far-off homes, it is very singular that others which count among 
common breeding birds as far north as central Germany, such as 
E. cirlus and E. cia, have each only occurred here twice in the 
long space of fifty years, especially when even E. hiteola from the 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 3G9 

Altai has visited Heligoland twice, and^. aureola from upper Siberia 
on no less than three occasions. 



169. Common Bunting [Geestenammer]. 
EMBERIZA MILIARIA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Dikke-Dieit = r/M'cfc or Fat Beast, 

Emberiza miliaria. Naumann, iv. 213. 

Common Bunting. Dresser, iv. 163. 

Bruant proijcr. Temminck, Manuel, i. 306, iii. 219. 

The short plump figure of this bird probably has given rise to 
the above-noted not very flattering Heligolandish designation. Its 
appearance is rendered still more striking, and acquires a kind of 
bull- dog character, if, as I have done, one mounts it side by side 
with its pretty little cousin, the tiny Little Bunting (Emberiza 
piisilla). 

As a rule this bird visits Heligoland in small numbers only, a 
few scattered examples — at most two or three in one day — being seen 
occasionally during March and again in November. The year 
1S83 was a striking exception to this rule, the bird having occurred 
on the 2nd, 7th, and 8th of November in companies of from ten to 
fifteen and twenty individuals, without its being possible to adduce 
any special cause for this phenomenon, which, moreover, extended 
to the return journey of the following spring — ' very many Common 
Buntings daily' having been noted in my journal durmg the last 
days of March. 

The breeding home of this Bunting extends from Portugal to 
Central Asia. Sewertzoff mentions it as a breeding species and bird 
of passage even in Turkestan. Its range does not however extend 
very far north, the bird being of rare occurrence in lower Norway, 
though somewhat more numerous in lower Sweden. In England 
and Scotland, including the Hebrides, it is very abundant. It is 
resident in specially large numbers in Spain and Portugal, and 
found as a common breeding bii'd even on the Canary Islands. 

The migration of this Bunting must adhere very rigidly to a 
north-to-south line of flight, because the least inclination for an 
east-to-west course would convey the numerous residents of this 
species in England, Holstein and Denmark in far greater numbers 
to Hehgoland than is actually the case. 



2a 



370 THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 

170, — Yellow Bunting [Goldammer]. 

EMBERIZA CITRINELLA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Gjiihl Klutjer= Yellow Bunting. 

Umberiza citrinella. Naumann, iv. 234. 

Yellow Bunting. Dresser, iv. 171. 

Bruantjcmne. Teiuminck, Manuel, i. 304, iii. 218. 

The Yellow Bunting does not appear here m large flocks, but 
nevertheless is one of the commonest birds of this island, being 
jjresent in varying numbers at all seasons of the year. Scattered 
examples occur among the vanguard of the great host of spring 
migrants as early as March and April, while the bird passes on 
migration throughout all the autumn months, and even in the 
middle of winter; at which time small numbers are always met 
with among the enormous flocks of all possible kinds of granivorous 
birds which frequently cover the island during sudden and heavy 
snowfalls. 

The breeding i-ange of the Yellow Bunting extends from 
northern Spain and France, through the whole of central and 
northern Europe, and in Asia as far as the Jenesei. In the north 
it extends to the northernmost parts of Scandinavia; and, since 
Wolley saw it arriving in upper Lapland during the autumn 
migration by an east-to-west route, it must also nest in the same 
high latitudes in European and Asiatic Russia. 

171. — Yellow-breasted Bunting [Weidenammer]. 
EMBERIZA AUREOLA, Pallas. 

Enibcriza aureola. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Naehtrdgc, 166. 

Yellow-breasted Bunting. Dresser, iv. 223. 

Bruant aurdole. Temminck, Manuel, iii. 232. 

Although I have obtained three examples of this Bunting in 
Helisjoland, I have hitherto not succeeded in securinar the very 
handsomely-marked male bird. The examples in my collection 
consist of two young birds shot on the 18th of September 1852, and 
the 5th of November 1864 respectively, and an old female killed 
here on the 8th of July 1870. 

The breeding range of this species extends from the north of 
European Russia, through the whole of Siberia to Kamtschatka. 
With the exception of a feAV individuals killed in Italy the bird 
does not as yet appear to have been observed in central Europe. 



\ 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 371 

This species likewise furnishes a proof of the obstinate manner in 
which many birds adhere to the southerly course of the autumn 
migration. 



172. — Cirl Bunting [Zaunammer]. 
EMBERIZA CIRLUS, Linn. 

Embcriza cirlus. Naumann, iv. 251. 

Cirl Bunting. Dresser, i v. 177. 

Bruant zi~.i. Temminck, Manuel, i. 313, iii. 227. 

I have obtained this Bunting here on two occasions onty, viz. :— 
a fine male in full adult plumage on the 27th of April 1862, and, not 
until nineteen years later, on the 31st March 1883, an old female. 
Seeing that this species nests in isolated instances as far north as 
central Germany, and is even fairly abundant in the south of England, 
its rare occurrence on this island might seem surprising. The 
bird, however, is a pre-eminently western species, breeding most 
numerously in Spain and Portugal, and thence in gradually de- 
creasing numbers through the whole of south and central Europe. 
This species in fact affords another proof of the rare occurrences 
of western and southern species in Heligoland ; and the two 
examples killed here probably mark the northernmost point to 
which this species has ever advanced. 



173. — Strickland's Bunting [Grauer Ammer]. 
EMBERIZA CINEREA, Strickland. 

EmberisM cinerea. Kriiper, Journal f. Ornithologie, 1875, p. 268. 

Strickland's Bunting. Dresser, iv. 1 59. 

This interesting Bunting was first discovered by Strickland near 
Smyrna in 1836 ; a second example was obtained by Von Heuglin 
in North Africa. For several decades nothing more had been heard 
about the bird until Kriiper, in the spring of 1863, during an 
excursion to Asia Minor, re-discovei'ed it, as it were. He was 
looking on the mountains above Burnova for E. ecesia, and shot a 
Bunting in which, to his great surprise, he recognised what was to 
him an entirely unknown species. Having once had his attention 
attracted to the bird he succeeded in obtaining several males, and, 
later on, females also. In spite of all efforts, however, he was unable 
to obtain the nest and eggs, although he proved the bird to be a 
by no means uncommon breeding species in Asia Minor. 



372 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

In Heligoland the bird lias been observed once, but nnfor- 
tunately, though it remained for nearly a week, was not Idlled. 
It was slightly injured by a shot which gi'azed it, on the 1st of 
June 1877, the day on which it was first observed ; this, though 
it had the good effect of keeping the bird here till its wound 
was healed, had, at the same time, made it so shy that it flew off, 
rising at as great a distance as a hundi-ed paces or even more. 
The bird took up its residence in a field of very short oats, 
where, with a telescope, it could be observed for any desirable 
length of time, at the distance mentioned, from above the edge of a 
bank of earth. Clans and Jan Aeuckens, as well as my son Ludwig, 
made every imagmable effort to secure it, but to no purpose. It 
left the island with its Avound healed on the 6tli of the month. 

The first report which reached me in I'egard to this rarity was 
couched in these terms : ' A Buntmg, very like the female of 
E. melanocephala, but with the back of a finer grey, and the outer 
tail-feathers with a largo white spot.' 

Among a number of skins of E. melanocephala, E. luteola and 
other similar species, a beautiful skin of Kriiper's, belonging to a 
male bird, was at once noted as belonging to the present species 
with the additional remark : ' Neck not quite so yellow.' 

So far as I am concerned I have no doubt as to the identity 
of this example. As, in many other cases, simultaneously Avith 
the above-named Bunting, one of its countrymen, a one-year old 
male of E. melanocephala, was likewise observed here. This I suc- 
ceeded in obtaining on the 3d of June. 

As appears from Kriiper's detailed reports, this is a breeding 
species in Asia Minor. The same observer adds that there can be 
no doubt about this bird belonging to the European fauna, as it was 
said to have been discovered during recent years also in Kussia. 



174. — Ortolan Bunting [Gartenammer]. 

EMBERIZA HORTULANA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Ortelloan =Orto/a.n.. 

Emhcriza hortulana. Naumann, iv. 2 58. 

Ortolan Bunting. Dresser, i v. 185. 

Bruant ortolan. Temminck, Manuel, i. 311, iii. 225. 

The reputation as a delicate morsel for the palate, which this 
bird has held from the days of the old Romans through all 
subsequent ages, has never reached Heligoland ; for on this island 
the bird, both in spring and autumn, is left completely unnoticed. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 373 

although, next to the Snow Bunting, it is the most abundant species 
of the whole genus. No special method of capture is in use, and 
neither its small body nor its alleged delicate flavour is con- 
sidered equal to the value of a shot. 

The quiet, harmless mode of life of this bird also contributes 
to the fact that it receives so little attention : during the spring 
migration, from fifty to a hundred of these birds may be staying 
in a plot of oats about six inches high without being noticed, 
unless they happen to be accidentally disturbed. 

Hundreds of these birds visit the island on all fine warm days 
in May, and from the middle of August to the end of September- 
Durmg the first-named month it frequents fields sown with oats 
or barley, and during August and September the potato-fields. 

On one occasion I obtained an old male of this species, the 
measurements of which were much below the normal. In this 
example the light yellow colour of the foreneck extended over 
all the lower parts, only the sides of the upper breast displacing a 
very faint tinge of rust-coloiu'. I am unable to give a fuller descrip- 
tion, or the measurements of this example, inasmuch as it is in the 
possession of E. von Homeyer. 

The Ortolan is distributed as a breeding species over the whole of 
Europe, though very unequally. In Scandinavia it is found nest- 
ing as far as the Arctic Cu'cle, while in England it is only of rare 
occurrence. On the east it probably does not extend far beyond 
Central Asia, though Sewertzoft" mentions it as a breeding species as 
far east as Turkestan. In the south, its nesting range extends 
to Asia Minor and Palestine. 



175,— Cretzschmar's Bunting [Gkauer Ortolan]. 
EMBERIZA C.ESIA, Cretzschmar. 

Emberiza cusia. Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtriige, 172. 

Cretzschmar's Bunting. Dresser, iv. 2 1 3. 

Bruant cendrillard. Temminok, Manuel, iii. 225. 

Twenty-five or thirty years ago, when the early summer in 
Heligoland was still warm and fine, one or two examples of this 
pecuharly coloured Bunting used to be seen, and in most cases shot, 
nearly every May and June ; m autumn I have never observed 
the bu-d. About a dozen examples, for the most part fine males, 
were obtained during May 1848, June 1852, May 1857, 1859, 1862, 
1866, and 1867. In the course of the last twenty years, however, 
it has been observed and shot on one occasion only. 



374 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

'The breeding range of this species does not appeal- to extend 
beyond Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine, and Turkestan. 



176. — Meadow Bunting [Zipammer]. 
EMBERIZA CIA, Linn. 

JEmheriza cia. Naumann, iv. 270. 

Meadow Bunting. Dresser, iv. 205. 

Bruantfou. Temminck, Manuel, i. 215, iii. 227. 

As regards this species there is very little to report from Heligo- 
land ; about fifty years ago Reyiners on one occasion obtauaed a 
rather young bird, which he sold to Brandt of Hamburg ; at that 
time I had not commenced collecting. I had for many years 
given descriptions of the bird to my gunners, but without result, 
until at last my son Ludwig, on the 8th of March 1882, brought me 
the long-desired spoil in the form of a splendid old male in the 
purest summer plumage. He had shot the bird on the fields of 
the Upper Plateau. 

The breeding range of this species extends through the whole 
of Europe, and in Asia to at least the eastern boundary of Turkestan. 
In Germany it advances as far as the middle of the Rhine, and in 
the south is found nesting as far as Asia Mmor and Palestine. 



177.— Pine Bunting [Fichtenammer]. 

EMBERIZA PITYORNIS, Pallas.i 

Emberiza jjityornis. Naumann, iv. 276. 

Pine Bunting. Dresser, iv. 2 1 7. 

Bruant a conronne lactic. Temminck, Manuel, i. 310, iii. 224. 

This Bunting has only once been captured in Heligoland, I 
myself having been so fortunate as to catch an example, a very 
fine old male, in the throstle-bush of my garden on the 16th of 
April 1881. 

It is a handsome bird, its size exceeding that of the Yellow 
Bunting, and rather approaching that of E. melanocephala. The 
total length of the freshly killed bird was 6'69 ins. (170 miH.) ; the 
length of the wing, 370 ins. (94 mm.) ; length of tail, 3-07 ins. (78 
mTn.) ; length of tail uncovered by wings, 1-42 ins. (36 vim.). 

The eggs of this bird, which I owe to the kmdness of Horr 
Tancr^, m then markings of fine hncs and small dashes completely 

' Emberiza kucocephala (Gmel. ). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 375 

resemble those of the YelloAV Bunting, but their ground-colour is 
somewhat more greenish than in the latter species. In one of them 
the fine veins are almost entirely absent, and the gi'ound-colour is 
nearly hidden by short reddish-brown lines, as is rather frequently 
the case in the eggs of the Yellow Bunting. In form and size they 
are much lilvc larger examples of the latter species; they were 
obtained in the Altai Mountains. 

The breeding range of this Bunting extends from the Irtish and 
Altai eastwards through Siberia ; in Turkestan it is, according to 
Sewertzoff, merely a bird of passage and winter visitant. 

178.— Little Bunting [Zwergammek]. 

EMBERIZA PUSILLA, Pallas. 

Heligolandish : Franzbsk Nieper = French Reed Bunting. 

Emheriza pusilla. Naumann, xiii. ; masms, Nachtrdge, 175. 

Zdttle Bunting. Dresser, iv. 235. 

Bruant nain. Scblegel, Kritische Uebersicht d. Eur. Vbgel, l.^cxi. and 84. 

Claus Aeuckcns is responsible for the above somewhat pecuhar 
Hehgolandish designation of this bird ; and it is only in use among 
such shooters as really possess a more than usually intimate know- 
ledge of the rarer species occurring. The term ' French ' is, how- 
ever, not to be considered in a geographical sense, but as signifying 
something quite peculiar, and dift'erent from what has been ever 
seen before. 

The tirst example of this pretty little Buntmg I obtained on the 
4th of October 1845, it having been shot by Oeh-ich Aeuckens, 
the eldest of the three brothers, unfortunately since deceased. After 
the bird had been once seen and its caU-note marked, it was observed 
here almost every autumn, and in most cases killed. Some twenty- 
five or thirty examples have, I should say, passed through my 
hands. By way of example, I may here give a series of the dates 
of occurrence of this species : — 4th October 1845 ; 11th October 
1846 ; 10th and 12th October 1847 ; 30th September, 4th, 9th, 
11th, 23rd, 27th October, and I7th December 1848; 20th and 26th 
September 1849 ; 15th September, 10th, 12th, and 18th October 
1850 ; 5th, 7th, and 9th October 1851 ; 18th, 27th October and 
9th November 1852. The greatest number of these Buntings, 
accompanied by E. rustica and other eastern species, appeared in 
the year 1879. The notes in my diary are as follows : On the 26th 
September shot one E. pusilla ; on the 27th shot two ditto, and 
saw one E. rustica ; Claus Aeuckens likewise saw what was probably 
an E. aureola ; on the 28th shot one E. pusilla, and also saw a pan- 



376 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

of the same species ; also shot one E. riLstica, but not the same one 
as was seen on the day before. In the example shot the feet were 
perfectly clean, a sign by which Heligolanders are able to tell whether 
a bird has arrived the same morning or the day before, the feet being 
in the former case clean ; in the latter, coloured red by the soil. An 
E. pusilla was seen on the 29th, another on the 30th, and again one 
on the 1st October. On the 8th an E. ■pusilla, two or three E. 
rustica, one Anthus cervimis, and one Sylvia iworeguliis (Glaus 
Aeuckens) ; on the 9tli, one E. rustica ; on the 10th, one E. pusilla, 
— this bird, judging from the soles of its feet, having been here 
also on the previous day. One E. rustica Avas seen but not 
secured; on the 14th, two Sylvia superciliosa — one a fine male — 
shot by my son Ludwig. On the 24th, Fringilla horncmanni, a 
young male. Besides the species named, many examples oi Anthus 
richardi, and hundreds of thousands of Alauda cdpcstr'is, were 
observed. 

One feels inclined to ponder as to how many other equally 
interesting rarities from Siberia may not have visited Heligoland 
at the same time, Avithout having come under observation, and how 
large a number of them must have passed through northern and 
central Germany on the way to their winter quarters in Avestern 
Europe. Among these, the Little Bunting especially Avould have 
escaped observation, being a quiet ground dAveller not easily scared, 
and seeking its food among field-plants and along high grass borders, 
Avhere it may frequently be approached to Avithin ten paces or less 
before it avlU take flight. It utters its call-note only while on the 
Aving ; this is a very feeble cry, hardly like that of a Bunting, but yet 
audible at a considerable distance ; it is very high in tone, someAA'hat 
resembling the sound produced by striking a tensely-stretched thin 
steel Avu*e Avith the point of the nail. 

Though this bird in the general coloration of its plumage bears 
a strong resemblance to other closely-allied species, it cannot by 
any means easily be confounded Avith them. From young Keod 
Buntings {E. schceniclus) it is distinguished both by its much smaller 
size, and also more especially by the absence of the vivid ferru- 
ginous colour of the small outer wing-coverts, Avhich in aU the 
diffei'ent stages of the plumage in E. pusilla are of a pale earthy grey ; 
its shorter tail, too, serves to distinguish it even at some distance ; 
nor does it, as it runs along, jerk this organ either so frequently or 
in such striking manner as E. schceniclus. There is equally little 
chance of confounding it Avith young autumn birds or hen birds of 
E. pallasi, for in such birds the ground-colour of the feathers 
of the upper portion and sides of the breast is of a more or less 
rich isabelline rust-colour (isabell rostfarben), and the pale rust- 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 377 

coloured streaks on tlie shafts arc only slightly darker than the 
ground. In E. pusilla, on the other hand, these streaks in all the 
different stages of plumage are pure black, and sharply defined 
from the ground-colour of the feathers, which in tliLs species, on 
the upper portion and sides of the breast, is very frequently pure 
white. 

The niost characteristic marking, however, of this Bunting is 
that of the head. A bright ferruginous broad median streak runs 
along the crowTi of the head from the beak to the nape ; this is 
bordered on each side by a somewhat narrower black streak of 
equal length ; the lores and oar-coverts are also ferruginous, the 
latter edged by a black line. Broad buff-coloured (rostgelbe) eye- 
streaks extend behind to the back of the head, then bend down- 
wards, embracing the ear-coverts, and thence upwards as far as the 
lower mandible. From the angles of the latter, broad black stripes 
extend downwards along both sides of the throat as far as the 
upper breast. The throat and upper breast are bufty white 
(rostgelblieh weiss), each feather of the latter with a black streak 
on the shaft. 

The measurements of freshly-killed birds are as follows : — Total 
length, from 5 ins. (127 mm.) to 5-31 ins. (135 mm.); length of 
wings, from 2-64 ins. (67 mm.) to 2-76 in.s. (70 mm.) ; length of tail, 
2-20 ins. (.56 mm.); length of wing uncovered by tail, 1-22 in. (31 
lum.) to 138 in. (35 mm.). The biU. measures -27 in. (7 mm.), and 
is very pointed ; the upper mandible is not arched, but compressed 
before the tip. The tarsus measures 67 in. (17 m?;i.). The nails of 
the hinder toes are short and much curved ; the feet are small and 
whitish flesh-coloured. 

I have in my possession an egg of this bird, collected by 
Seebohm on the 30th of June 1877 on the Jenesei in 67° N. latitude. 
It is -67 in. (17 mm.) long, -55 in. (l-l vim.) broad, therefore of rather 
circular shape. It has neither fine veins nor dots, but in its mark- 
ings presents the characters of some eggs of the Common Bunting ; 
the ground is dull ochreous white with large reddish violet blotches, 
the markmgs consisting of reddish sepia-brown spiral lines, short 
commas and spots, some of which appear nearly black, with some- 
what lighter edges. 

The breeding range of this small Bunting extends from the 
Dwina and Petchora to the extreme east of Asia. Seebohm met 
with it on the Jenesei up to 71° N. latitude; Middendorft' in the 
Taimj'r Peninsula, and Schrenk on the Lower Amoor. Solitaiy 
individuals have, during the autumn migration, reached as far as 
the south of France. It has been killed several times in Italy, once 
in Sweden, and once in England. 



378 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

179. Rustic Bunting [Waldammer]. 

EMBERIZA RUSTICA, PaUas. 

Heligolandish : Koad-striiked l^\eTpeT = Bed-striped Reed Bunting. 
Emherixa nistica Naumann, xiii. ; Blasius, Nachtrdge, i8o. 

Russtic Bunting. Dresser, iv. 229. 

Bruant rustiquc. Temminck, Manuel, iii. 229. 

This, like the preceding species, is ahnost exekisively an Asiatic 
bird, and counts in a still higher degree among the rarer occur- 
rences of central and Avestern Europe, Heligoland probably being able 
to show more instances of its occurrence than all other parts to the 
west of its breeding range together. I find it noted no less than six- 
teen times in my diar3^ and of these examples eight are at present set 
up in my collection. The tirst examijle of this species was killed 
here in 1839 or 1840. Claus Aeuckens, at that time a little boy, 
threw a flat stone at it in such a manner as to sever the head clean 
from the trunk. Although at that time I neither collected nor pos- 
sessed the least knowledge of birds, it was at my instigation that the 
bird was stuffed in spite of its unfortunate condition. It went into 
the collection of Herr A. P. Schuldt of Hamburg, who afterwards, 
when I had seriously devoted myself to the avifauna of Heligoland, 
most kindly gave it over to me ; and though I am now in possession 
of a number of far more beautiful examples, the specimen in 
question still forms a pleasing recollection of my early unassisted 
steps in the domain of ornithology. The other examples were 
obtained in the following order : 10th September 1857 ; 9th 
October 1863; 9th September 1870; 3rd April 1873, a female; 
,5th October 1875, a male; 9th October 1878; 27th and 28th 
of September 1879, one each day ; on the 8th October two or 
three birds were seen, and one each day on the 9 th and 10 th ; 
on the 14th April ISSO, one in my garden; on the I7th of Sep- 
tember 1881 an example was shot here ; and on the same day one 
was killed on the opposite coast of England. On the 24th Sep- 
tember my son Ludwig shot a young bird — in connection with 
which I would remark that, four days previously, he likewise shot 
the first example of Sylvia {Hijpolais) 2)allida, which had ever 
occurred here. In the head-markings of the autumn plumage this 
Bunting shows much similarity to other closely related species, but 
could nevertheless never be confounded with any of these. It is 
at once characterised by the abundance of the beautiful rich 
ferruginous colour, which is spread over the whole of its j^lumage. 
The feathers of the hind neck, the shoulders and rump, as well as 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 379 

the upper tail-coverts are of a pure rich ferruginous, with only very 
tine lighter coloured edges ; it is, however, especially the marking 
of the upper portion and sides of the breast which at once allows 
us to distinguish this species from all its congeners : all the feathers 
of these parts have a median broad rich ferruginous streak, and 
since the whole under surface of the bird is pure white, these 
streaks are at once very noticeable even at some distance. In old 
males the head in summer is of a deep shiny black, above and behind 
the eye a broad stripe of pure white passes backwards, nearly meeting 
a patch of the same colour on the nape. A male bird of this kind 
is unquestionably the handsomest of all Old World Buntings. 

The measurements of fresh examples are as follows : — Total 
length, 578 ins. (147 mm.) ; length of wing in repose, 3-07 ins. (78 
mm.); length of tail, 2li2 ins. (.59 mm.): length of tail uncovered by 
wings, 1'34 in. (34 m?«.). 

The eggs of this species, in regard to which doubts were enter- 
tained for so long a time, appear at last to have been obtained by 
Seebohm and Herr R. Tancre ; one of these stated to originate from 
Siberia has been kindly lent me for description by the last-named 
gentleman. One would hardly take it for a Bunting's egg, although 
in its markings it bears some distant resemblance to the eggs of 
E. melanocephala and E. luteola. It is -82 in. (21 7nm.) long, -07 in. 
(17 mm.) broad, and of somewhat pointed shape. The ground is 
a rather rich yellowish sea-green, with relatively large dark 
oUvaceous grey patches. The whole egg is somewhat densely 
sprinkled and dotted with olive-coloured spots, and has small and 
moderately large irregular olive-coloured markings ; it most nearly 
resembles fresh very bright green, and not densely spotted, eggs of 
theGreat Reed Warbler {Sylvia {Acrocephalii^s) arundinacea) except 
that in E. rustica the grey patches are much more pronounced, and 
the olivaceous outer markings much more scanty than in the 
present species. 

In Heligoland the Rustic Bunting is met with principally 
on fields amongst vegetables ; I have, however, on two occasions 
seen it perch on a willow-bush from ten to twelve feet high, a 
fact which has never been observed here in the case of the Little 
Bunting. Its call-note resembles that of the last-named species, 
but is perhaps somewhat stronger. 

The breeding home of this species extends from the Archangel 
district as far as Kamtschatka. 



380 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

180. Reed Bunting [Rohuammek]. 
EMBERIZA SCHCENICLUS, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Nieper. Local name for Reed Brmtiivj. 
Mmhcriza schniniclus. Naimiann, W. 280. 

Reed Buntiny. Dresser, iv. 241. 

Bruant dc roseaux. Temminck, Manuel, i. 307, ii. 219. 

Although this pretty httle creatm-e is distributed as a breeding 
bird over the whole of Europe, it can only be regarded as a somewhat 
rare occurrence in Heligoland. This holds good e.specially in regard 
to the spring migration. The autumn of 1884, however, was an 
exception to the rule, for about the middle of October hundreds of 
these birds were seen in one day — more than occur usually in the 
course of a whole year. Turdus iliacus also occurred in preponderat- 
ingly large numbers, and Alcmda arborea and Emheriza viiliaria 
were observed repeatedly in unusual abundance. During the same 
time the Reed Bunting also occurred in strikingly large numbers 
in England ; and it was jarobably owing to similar causes that the 
Northern Bluethroat appeared during the same migration period 
in exceptionally large quantities on the east coast of England, 
where, under ordinary conditions, it is of extremely rare occurrence. 
The direction of the wind during the days of the strongest migra- 
tions was frequently north-north-west. I do not, however, believe 
that local and transient changes in the direction of the wind are 
able to exert a direct influence on the normal line of flight of a 
migrant. This is rendered very evident here in the migratory droves 
of Crows which, while frequently changing the direction of the axial 
line of their body, never in the least alter that of their migration- 
flight; even a very violent south-east or south-south-east wind, such 
as they often get into here out at sea, neither influences the westerly 
course of their autumn migration nor its velocity ; although under 
these conditions the position of their body is south-south-west, i.e. 
removed by six points of the compass from their westerly line of 
flight, their migi-ation, in spite of the more or less considerable 
sideward movement into which they are thus forced, nevertheless 
proceeds in as exact an east-to-west direction as during the most 
favourable weather, when the axial line of the bird's body coincides 
with the line of their migration flight. All migrants, both in 
autumn and in spring, are most numerously brought within the 
range of observation during the prevalence of light and moderate 
south-easterly and south-south-easterly winds accompanied by 
warm weather ; while they are seen in least numbers if violent west 
winds accompanied by rain prevail during their spring and autumn 



THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 381 

migrations. The Reed Bunting is found as a breeding bird from 
western Europe to Japan, and from Italy to upper Scandinavia. 
Seebohm found its nest on the Jenesei as far as 70|° N. latitude. 



181. — Large-billed Reed Bunting [Gimpelammer]. 
EMBERIZA PYRRHULOIDES, PaUas. 

Emberixa pyrrhuloides. Naumann, xiii. ; Bhsma, Nachtrcige, 184. 

Large-billed Reed Bunting. Dresser, iv. 249. 

Bmant de marais. Temminck, Mami,el, iii. 220, iv. 639. 

This magnified repetition of the Reed Bunting has once been 
captured — a very fine old male in full adult plumage having 
been caught here on the 24th of April 1879 by .some boys in a net. 
Several other birds of this species must have occurred on the 
island that day ; for, in the first place, one of my shooters, who had 
been on Sandy Island that day without having a gun at hand, 
described to me very accurately ' the large light-coloured Reed 
Bunting '; and I myself, on the afternoon of the same day, saw three 
of these birds flying very low over my garden, one of them being a 
very light-coloured male of this species, and the two others incon- 
spicuous females — unquestionably also belonging to it ; these birds 
could not be discovered again. Nevertheless, the example referred 
to above is a great ornament of the Bunting division of my 
collection. 

The pure deep black colour of the head in this example does 
not quite extend to the back of the head. On the other hand, the 
pure white of the neck extends nearly to the back, and occupies 
the sides of the upper breast, the breast, flanks, and under tail- 
coverts, all of which parts are devoid of any kind of dark markings. 
Of the five black stripes of the back, the three central ones are 
separated by two narrow dull rust-grey streaks, while a very broad, 
nearly pure white stripe extends downwards between the two outer 
stripes on each side. The abimdance of pure white in the plumage 
of this bird, side by side with the deep black and the light ferru- 
ginous colour of the outer wing-coverts, gives it an extremely dis- 
tinguished appearance. 

The measurements taken from the fresh example caught here 
are as follows : — ^Total length, 6'50 ins. (165 mm.) ; length of wings, 
3-23 ins. (82 mm); length of tail, 2'95 ins. (75 mm.) ; length of tail 
uncovered by wings, 185 in. (47 mm.). 

The bird has been met with as resident breeding species from 
the mouths of the Volga and Ural rivers, at the Caspian Sea and 
Lake Aral, eastwards as far as Yarkand, 



382 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

182. — Black-headed Bunting [SchwarzkOpfiger Ammek]. 

EMBERIZA MELANOCEPHALA, Scopoli. 

Heligolandish : Swart-hoaded giihl Klut,jeT = Black-headed Yellow Bunting. 

Emberizamelanocephala. Naumann, iv. 227, xiii.; Blasius, Nachtrdge, 165. 

Black-headed Bimting. Dresser, iv. 151. 

Bruant crocoie. Temminck, Manuel, i. 303, iii. 2 1 7. 

I obtained the first example of this large and handsome Bunting 
on the 4th of June 1845 ; it is an old male in which, singularly, 
the normal black markings of the head not only extend downwards 
along the sides of the neck, but the fore-neck also has a long black 
longitudinal patch. Since that time the species has occurred here 
about fifteen times, and has been killed in most of these cases. 
With the excejDtion of one young bird, all these examples are 
in summer plumage, five old males, three old females, and a male 
in its second year, being in my collection, while an old pair was 
given by me to Mr. Gurney. With the exception of the young 
bird of the year (Sommervogel) which was shot in August, all 
these examples occurred between the 6th of May and the 18th 
of June. 

In England this species has only been observed once, an old 
female having been shot there in November 1868. It appeared 
astonishing at the time that this individual should have made the 
journey to England so late in the year, instead of flying towards its 
winter quarters in the opposite direction. Unquestionably, however, 
the bird did not get to England at so late a period of the year, but 
had landed there during the preceding summer, and had remained 
unobserved, until, in autumn, while accompanying a flock of Yellow 
Hammers, it was easily recognised on the open field and shot. 

In Heligoland one is probably justified in saying that a bird has 
arrived on the same day on which it is observed ; in England or 
the continent, however, such an assumption would not be tenable, 
especially under conditions such as those mentioned above. 

This Bunting is a breeding bird in Dalmatia, Greece, Asia 
Minor, and the Caucasus ; it does not appear to nest farther east, 
for it is not mentioned by Sewertzoii' among the birds of 
Turkestan. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 383 

183. — Red-headed Bunting [Braunkehliger Ammer]. 
EMBERIZA LUTEOLA, Jcrdon.i 

Emheriza icterica. Eversmann, Addenda ad Pallasi /Coogr. Ross.-Asiat., ii. lo. 

Euspiza luteola. Jerdon, Birds of India, ii. 378. 

Emberiza luteola. Sewertzoff, Fauna of Turkestan; Ibis, 1876, 249. 

I have twice had the good fortune to come across this Bunting 
in my garden, both examples being old males : the first on the 20th 
of June 1860, and the second, a less handsomely-phmiaged speci- 
men, some years later in September. Very probably this species had 
been shot on a previous occasion by Oelrich Aeuckens ; but the bird 
in question having been heavily wounded, half fluttered, half fell into 
some shrubs, and, in spite of all efforts, could not be found again. 

It was described as a beautiful very yellow Bunting, the markings 
round its bill being almost as red as those of a Goldfinch. 

The early summer of the above-mentioned year was a generally 
rich one, even for Heligoland. On the 12th of May I obtained a 
splendid old male of Saxicola aurita ; on the I7th, Turclus saxa- 
tilis, fem. ; on the 3rd of June, Muscicapa albicollis, also a splendid 
old male; on the ISth, Emberiza melanocephala, an old female; 
and on the same day, Cliaradrius fulvus, an old female ; on the 
20th, the above-mentioned Emberiza luteola ; and on the 14th of 
July, Fringilla serimis, the first example of this species observed 
here. 

This Bunting is at once distinguished from all related yellow 
species in that the rump, the sides of the neck, upper breast, and 
breast, as well as all the lower parts, are of the purest and richest 
yellow, without spots of any other colour. The forehead, cheeks, 
and throat are of a beautiful rust-red. The feathers of the 
wings and tail are greyish brown, and have grey edges which, on 
the lesser and greater wing-coverts, as well as on the posterior 
flight-feathers, pass into broad whitish grey borders. As in the pre- 
ceding species the outer tail-feathers have no white markings. 

This species breeds east of the Caspian Sea, — according to 
Sewertzoff, in the whole of Turkestan — at elevations of from 4000 
to 8000 feet. Herr R. Tancre has had large numbers of both the 
bird and eggs collected in the Altai Mountains. Some of the eggs, 
which he has kindly given to me, bear a strong resemblance 
in colour and markings to those of E. melanocephala, but are 
much smaller, and in general are not so much dotted with black 
as those of this closely related species. They measure -82 in. (21 
mm.) in length, and -63 in. (16 mm.) in breadth ; the ground-colour 
' Emberiza luteola, Sparmann. 



384 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

is a dull olivaceous yellowish white (olivengelblich getrilhtes Weiss), 
with darkish grey roundish blotches, and yellowish olive-brown 
{gelblich-olivenbraune) splashes, which are gathered in a zone, or 
are somewhat more crowded at the thick end. In one of the eggs 
a violaceous greyish bro^vn (violettlich graubraun) shade predomi- 
nates, both in the ground-colour as well as in markings, whereby it 
resembles some of the eggs of the White Wagtail so much as to be 
easily mistaken for them. In one egg in my collection the dots are 
finer than in any other, and the markings, which are rather scanty, 
are distributed uniformly over the whole surface. This example I 
owe to the kindness of Colonel Wardlaw-Ramsay, who collected it 
in Afghanistan during the war in 1880. The ground-colour in this 
example is of a very pale sea-green. 

184.— Snow Bunting [Schneeammer]. 
EMBERIZA NIVALIS, Lmn.i 

Heligolandish: Sniiling = /Si)!.oio Bunting. 

Emberiza nivalis. Naumann, iv. 297. 

Snow Bunting. Dresser, iv. 261. 

Bruant de ncige. Temminck, Manuel, i. 319, iii. 339. 

As might be expected, the Snow Buntmg is a very numerous 
visitor to Heligoland — especially in late autunm, on the approach 
of frosty weather. A flock of some hundreds of these boisterous 
birds, descending for a moment on some open plam, presents a most 
pleasing sight. Evidently they do not alight for the purpose of 
resting — for they seem not to know what rest means, — nor in search 
of food. They, in fact, absolutely roU themselves over and over 
along the ground, the individuals at the rear of the flock flying low 
over the whole train of those in front of them, and immediately 
taking up their place in front of the foremost rank ; this mana?uvi'e 
is repeated without interruption, so that all the flock soon gets to 
the edge of the cliff. Arrived there, they rise in a body and hasten, 
as though they were chased by the wind, in a high curve to some 
distant spot, where the same restless movements are performed over 
again. The liveliness of such a scene is enhanced in no small 
degree by the clear call-notes of the birds, which they utter 
repeatedly both while running along the gi'ound and when on the 
wing. 

Not infrequently solitary young birds of the year arrive as early 
as the last days of August and the first days of September. 

' Plectrophenax nivaiis {hinn.). 



THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 385 

In these the phimage is uivarialily of a very dusky, ahnost 
coppery-browTi colour. Old birds in pure summer plumage I have 
obtained only on three occasions. These were individuals which 
had been delayed on their migi-ation by some accident or other, for 
the normal spring migration of this high northern species takes 
place very early in the year, when the birds are still in nearly full 
winter plumage. There is, however, no European bird which sur- 
passes in the beauty of its plumage an old male of this species, 
which displays none but the two colours of the breeding dress, 
viz. a deep, shiny black and a snow}- white. 

The breeding stations of the Snow Bunting are of circumpolar 
distribution. Captain Feilden found a nest with eggs in 82° 33' N. 
latitude, in the neighbourhood of Knot Harbour, Grinnell Land. 
The Ptarmigan alone seems to breed still farther north ; at least, the 
same observer found a pair of these bu-ds in latitude 82° 46' N., of 
which he shot the female. Lieutenant Aldrich, however, foiuid 
traces of this species still farther north, viz. in the snow in latitude 
83° 6' N. (Notes from an Arctic Journal, by H. W. Feilden. 
Reprinted from the Zoologist, p. 72). 

185. — Lapland Bunting [Lapplandischer Ammer]. 

EMBERIZA LArPONlCA, Linn.i 

Heligolandish: Berg-Sneeling =ikf owntoin Siiow Bunting. 

Emberiza lapponica. Naumann, iv. 319. 

Lapland Bunting. Dresser, iv. 253. 

Bruant montain. Temminck, Manuel, i. 322, iii. 339. 

Unlike its congener, the preceding species, this Bunting occurs 
here only in solitary instances ; fi'om the middle of September until 
the end of October two to three examples, rarely more, may be 
occasionally met with during a day. In its character, too, it is 
altogether imlike the Snow Bunting, having nothing of the boister- 
ousness and wildness of that species, but being of a gentle and quiet 
disposition. Indeed, I have frequently for years kept it confined in 
a cage, and its melodious, if somewhat melancholy, tune has given 
me much enjoyment during many a summer night spent at my 
desk over these leaves. The song of the Snow Bunting has exactly 
the same character ; but the melodious, flute-like notes are fuller, 
and the bird in confinement will only give utterance to them during 
the first hours of June and July nights. The Snow Bunting 
remains, however, so utterly intractable, crj-ing like one possessed 
when any person approaches its cage, that it is impossible to 

' C'alcarius lapponicus (Linn.). 

2b 



386 THE BIEDS OF HELIGOLAND 

make friends with it, and one generally ends by once more giving 
the peevish fellow his liberty. 

The Lapland Bunting, on the other hand, ceases fluttermg after 
one or two weeks' confinement if one keeps renewing its food, and 
soon becomes so tame that it will take flies from the linger. It 
also invariably accomplishes its autunm moult to perfection, and in 
a very short time. 

In the breeding plumage this bird, like other species from the 
Far North, is of extremely rare occurrence here. In fact, I have 
only once obtained it in the perfectly pure dress of summer. 

Like the preceding species, the Lapland Bunting breeds within 
the whole Arctic Circle, but does not advance so far north as the 
Snow Bunting. 

186.— Bobolink [Wandernder Eeisvogel]. 

DOLICHONYX ORYZIVORA, Linn.i 

Wandering Bice-Bird. Audubon, Syn. of Birds of North America, p. 138. 

An old male of this species has been twice shot here during the 
sunnuer months, and in each instance the bird was brought to me 
m its fi'e.sli condition. One of these examples has the tail and the 
tips of its wings nuich worn, but the plumage in other respects is 
quite perfect, and does not give the bird the appearance of having 
been kept in confinement. The second specimen was perfect in 
all its parts, and had certainly never been in a cage. 

This species is perhaps best placed here after the Buntings ; for, 
although it cannot actually be described as one of this famil}', the 
females and young autumn birds very closely resemble, especially in 
general external appearance, the phases of plumage belonging to 
similar ages of the large Yellow Buntings, Euspiza, and especially 
E. luteola. 

The home of this bird extends over, and is exclusively confined 
to, the United States of America. Apart from the two examples cited, 
the bird has hitherto not occurred on this side of the Atlantic. 



Finch — Fringilla. — This genus comprises about a hundred 
species, all rich in individuals, inhabiting almost the whole of the 
tdobe with the exception of AustraUa. Despite this wide range 
in distribution of the genus, its representatives in Heligoland are 
amongst the least interesting of the feathered visitors of that 
island, for, with the exception of isolated occurrences of Fringilla 
nivalis, F. Jiornemanni and F. exilipes, the seventeen species which 
the island can show are all common European names. 

' Dolichonyx oryzivorus (Linn.). 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 387 

187. — Chaffinch [Buchfink]. 
FRINGILLA CGELEBS, Linn. 

Heligolaiidish: Bockfink, from 'Bu.ch6nk = Becchfinch. 

Fringilla ccclcbs. Nauraann, v. 13. 

Cliaffinch. Dresser, iv. 3. 

Gros-bec pinson. Temminck, Manuel, i. 357, iii. 260. 

No one of the nuineroiis bird-visitors to this island has more 
angry epithets hurled after it than the Chaffinch during its spring 
migration. This treatment, indeed, is not meted out to it by the 
gimner or fowler, but by everybody who has sown a bit of earth in 
his modest garden with cabbage, radish, or turnip seed ; for should 
this have been done towards evening on one of the first days of 
April, we may be sure to find the little ])lot at da^vTi of the next 
day covered with Chaffinches, which, by the time one may happen to 
intervene, wiU probably have dug up and consumed half of the seed 
for their breakfast. To prevent this wholesale plunder, a net is 
stretched about a foot high above the joiece of ground ; but if this 
is not tightly fastened down with pegs all round, or if a single 
mesh of it is torn, the simple creatures are sure to creep through 
the opening and destroy as much as possible before one arrives on 
the scene. 

No possible benefit is, on the other hand, derived from these birds 
except that in two or three instances a fine old cock bird finds its way 
into the cage and satisfies the modest demands of its owner by its 
monotonous time. The bird is not caught for culinary purposes, 
though if a method for the capture of the same were established, 
one would fi-equently be able to obtain thousands of them from the 
middle of September to the end of October. All the potato-fields 
of the Upper Plateau are often covered with clouds of these birds 
during the autumn migi-ation. It is also fairly abundant during the 
spring migration, fi-om the end of March to the end of April, but its 
numbers at that time bear no comparison with those of the autiunn 
migration. 

Now and again a pair of these birds have nested here. In 
general the breeding area of the species extends over the whole of 
Europe from Portugal to the Ural, and in Scandinavia advances 
northward as long as it can find a district offering the least amount 
of arboreal vegetation. In the east, towards Asia, it is found nest- 
ing in solitary instances only ; and, according to Sewertzoff, it is but 
rarely met with during the winter months in Turkestan. 



388 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

188. — Brambling [Bergfink]. 

FRINCtILLA MONTIFRINGILLA, Linn. 

Heligolandish : Quaker. Name formed after the call-note. 

Fringilla montifringilla. Naumann, v. 44. 

Brambling. Dresser, iv. 1 5. 

Gros-hec des Ardennes. Temminck, Manuel, i. 360, iii. 264. 

This bird, also, like the preceding species, is an extremely 
unwelcome guest in the gardens of the island. Inasmuch as it 
generally arrives somewhat later than the Chaffinch in spring, 
the turnip and cabbage seeds have, by the time of its arrival, 
sprouted their first germinal leaves, this handsome bird seems 
to take a special delight in pulling the young plants out of the 
soil, and leaving them untouched on the ground. Members of 
bird-protection societies will probably say that, in doing this, it 
is trying to get at some noxious insect at the root of the plant. 
This seems, however, hardly likely to be the case ; for, in the first 
place, it pulls out the plants indiscriminately, one by one, down to 
the very last ; and secondly, seeds which have been protected by a 
net from amiable attentions of this nature, are found to thrive 
excellently. Hence we ought hardly to find fault with people who 
make use of protective contrivances of this kind to the best of their 
powers. We shall mention similar facts in regard to the Sparrow. 

A peculiar variety occurs sometimes, though extremely rarely, 
among the males of this species. This consists in the steel-blue 
glossy black of the head and neck extending also to the foreneck, 
which in the normal plumage is of a brownish orange (rostorcmge), 
and thus entirely surrounding the neck. During my long experience 
I have obtained exaTuples with this exceptional marking on two 
occasions. Naumann makes no mention of it ; but, according to a 
remark of Newton's in his edition of Yarrell's British Birds, it has 
been frequently noticed by English observers. 

The spring migi-ation of this species falls for the most part in 
April, but solitary old males arrive sometimes as early as the 
middle of March. The autumn migration commences about the 
middle of September ; frequently the numbers of migrant flocks 
increase considerably in the course of October, but they never attain 
to the enormous proportions of those of the Chafiinches. 

The breeding stations of this species extend from Norway to 
the Sea of Ochotsk, from 60° N. latitude, as far as birch trees, 
however stunted, afford the bird the opportunity for building its 
nest. 



THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 389 

189. — Snow Finch [Schneefink]. 
FRINGILLA NIVALIS, Linn. 

Fringilla nivalis. Naumann, v. 4. 
Snow Finch. Dresser, iii. 617. 

Gros-bec nivcrolle. Temminck, Mamiel, i. 362, iii. 261. 

This peculiar Finch, with the wings and tail of a Snow Bunting, 
as Aeuckens describes it, has occurred here twice ; the first time on 
March ;50th 18-49, and on one other occasion Aeuckens saw it in 
late autumn, but did not secure it. On the first-named date the 
wind was a light south-east and the weather fine. Light east winds 
prevailed at that time generally, and were productive of a copious 
migration ; thus, a short time previously, a Citril Finch was seen, a 
species which has also only been twice observed here. 

The nesting stations of this species aj^proach the snow-line of 
the higher mountain-ranges of Europe and Asia from Spain to 
Turkestan (Irby, Sewertzoft). It is only when these regions become 
inhosjDitable during the winter months that the bird descends to 
lower-lying districts : it has, in fact, no proper migration. 



190. — Goldfinch [Distelfink]. 
FRINGILLA CARDUELIS, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Z).sbeiitsch. = Goldfinch. 

Fringilla carduelis. Naumann, v. 1 26. 

Goldfinch. Dresser, iii. 527. 

Gros-hec chardonneret. Temminck, Miumel, i. 376, iii. 269. 

This elegant bird occurs here almost always in solitary in- 
stances, from three to five individuals in one day counting among 
the exceptions. Its autumn migration takes place in October, and 
the sprmg migTation from the middle of April to the end of May ; 
now and again it is seen during the mass-migrations of seed- 
eating species which are caused by a heavy sno^vfall and sudden 
frost during the whiter months. 

The breeding area of this species extends over the whole of 
Europe, and in Norway advances beyond the Arctic Circle. It also 
breeds in the Canaries, Madeira, north-west j:\irica, Asia Minor, 
and eastwards as far as the Altai Mountains. 

' Cardtidis degans (Steph. ). 



390 THE BIRDS OF HELIGOLAND 

191. — Linnet [Bluthanfling]. 
FRINGILLA CANNABINA, Linn.i 

Heligolandish : Irdisk. Name having uo meaning attached to it. 

Fringilla cannabina. Naumann, v. So. 

Linnet. Dresser, iv. 31. 

Gros-bec linottc. Temminck, Manuel, i. 364, iii. 262. 

The capture of a ' Blood-blood-road Irdisk ' is always a source 
of great deliwbt to our vounc: Heliijolanders ; for, next to tlie Gold- 
finch, it is everybody's favourite cage-bird. To be sure the old 
males are at first somewhat Avild and peevish, but, having once got 
used to their new surroundings, they soon come to bo highly- 
esteemed members of the family. Though the Siskin, too, is niuch 
in favour as a cage-bird, this is rather by reason of its simple 
confiding manner and invincible good humour than on account of 
its musical accomjjlishments, — its song, with the almost momen- 
tarily repeated concluding strophe, ' Friederi — i — Friederi — i — ah — 
h — h,' is indeed a very modest performance ; but has at any rate this 
merit, that by its inexhaustible vivacity it impels even the idlest 
songsters to chime in. The Linnet not only visits Heligoland in 
very large numbers, but does so also during a very large j^ortion 
of the year. It arrives with the earliest Chaffinches as soon as the 
middle or end of August, and one is really unable to say when its 
autumn migration actually ends ; for not only does it still continue 
to be very numerous during October and November, but smaller 
or larger companies are met with even in December. Nor is 
there a pause in its occurrence at the close of the year, for it 
may be seen again in January, being indeed specially numerous 
during the sudden and heavy snowfalls which have been already 
frequently mentioned as apt to occur at this season. During 
February and March it occurs daily, in greater or smaller companies, 
in the regular course of its spring migration. These companies 
gradually decrease m numbers from the middle to the end of April, 
when the spring migration terminates. 

The Linnet breeds numerously throughout the whole of Europe, 
advancing in the north to beyond 00° N. latitude. Eastwards, its 
breeding range extends at least to Central Asia; according to 
Sewertzoff, it occurs both as a common breeding bird and migrant 
as far east as Turkestan. 

' L'mola cannahina (Linn.). 



THE BIKDS OF HELIGOLAND 39